Versatility and comfort make Baked Ziti a dinner favorite

Baked Ziti is a great comfort food.

Baked Ziti is a great comfort food.

Baked Ziti is a recipe that is very adaptable to change. The basic premise of ziti pasta is it can be customized to suit your family’s tastes or the ingredients you happen to have in the pantry and refrigerator!

A Baked Ziti casserole is great to serve guests or will do as a simple family meal. Add a tossed salad and garlic bread, and you have meal to please even the hungriest family member.

The basic dish calls for ground beef, but here is where the versatility comes in. You can substitute ground turkey or Italian sausage. To cut cooking and preparation time, use frozen Italian meatballs that have been cut in half. They are pre-cooked and work great in this dish. Baked Ziti can also be made meatless, and some like to add a can of chopped tomatoes to the dish.

With this dish, it’s easy to please just about everyone at the table. And it is such a good comfort food that my family likes to have it often.

Baked Ziti freezes well, and this recipe fills a 9 x 13 inch pan to the top.

Baked Ziti

1 lb. box ziti pasta

1 onion (chopped)

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 lb. ground beef

1 egg slightly beaten

2 jars (28 ounces each) any flavor spaghetti sauce

8 ounces Ricotta cheese

2 cups Mozzarella cheese (shredded)

1 Tablespoon chopped basil and parsley

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Brown ground beef with the onion and garlic until cooked through. Cook pasta until al dente (still firm). Drain. Combine with ground beef and add spaghetti sauce, Ricotta cheese, egg, basil and parsley. Spoon into a greased 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Top with Mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees or until top is lightly browned and bubbly.

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