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Baked Ziti

This Italian-American recipe is a hit with the family. Baked Ziti is a comfort dish that’s easy to make and will feed a crowd!

Baked Ziti in a casserole dish topped with parsley

What will I need for this recipe?

Ground Turkey – You can use any type of ground meat for baked ziti, but my favorite is ground turkey. It doesn’t overpower the other flavors in the dish so it is my go-to, but you can substitute with ground beef if you have this on hand.

Ground Italian Sausage – Italian sausage is so flavorful and is the perfect addition to this dish. You can use mild, sweet, or hot for the recipe depending on your preference

Ziti Pasta – This dish, as it is named, has ziti pasta in it. The pasta is perfect to hold up against the sauce and meat mixture. However, if you don’t have ziti readily available you can substitute penne or rigatoni.

Green Bell Pepper – Green peppers are milder in flavor but they add the perfect crunch to this dish and a pop of color.

Yellow Onion – Yellow onions are the go-to cooking onion because they have a sweet, mild flavor that pairs well with most dishes. They also caramelize really well which enhances the flavor of the baked ziti.

Tomato Paste – The tomato paste enhances the flavor of the meat mixture that is layered into the ziti. It also helps to naturally thicken the sauce.

Garlic Paste – The garlic paste adds an earthy, spicy tone to the flavors. You can also use minced garlic if you do not have garlic paste on hand.

Tomato Purée – To get the consistency of the sauce just right the tomato purée and paste work together to enhance the dish.

Diced Tomatoes – Diced tomatoes stay firmer even after they have been cooked and they can hold up to the meat that goes into the sauce.

All-Purpose Seasoning – All-purpose seasoning is a blend that usually includes salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika. This makes it a versatile staple in your spice cabinet. I prefer to use Natures Seasoning but you can use any brand that you prefer.

Italian Seasoning – Usually this blend includes dried herbs like rosemary, basil, and oregano. It pairs well with the baked ziti and is incredibly aromatic.

Granulated Sugar – The sugar brings out the sweetness in the tomato-based sauce. It’s a great trick to always add just a bit into any sauce or marinara so that it’s not bitter.

Mozzarella Cheese – Mozzarella has a silky, mild flavor that compliments this dish well. It also adds a nice texture when added on top of the dish.

Avocado Oil – I generally prefer to use avocado oil since it has a higher smoke point and doesn’t impact the flavors of the dish. You can use olive oil if you have this on hand but be sure to watch the meat as it is cooking to ensure it doesn’t burn.

How to make Baked Ziti

Prepare the Turkey and Sausage

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

In a large pot over medium-high heat, add your two tsp avocado oil. Next, add in your ground turkey and Italian sausage. Allow to cook down and chop into crumbles. Cook for 8-10 minutes or until browned. 

Add in your veggies

Add in your bell peppers and onion and mix to combine. Cook down for 4-5 minutes or until the onion becomes slightly translucent. Squeeze in your tomato paste and cook for 3-4 minutes to get the bitterness out and add your minced garlic or garlic paste. Stir until the garlic becomes fragrant. 

Add in your tomato purée and diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes. 

Cook the pasta

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 2 Tbsp salt. Add in 1 1/2 boxes of ziti and cook until just short of Al dente. 2 minutes shorter than the box recommendation.

Add the dairy

In a medium bowl, add your ricotta, 1/2 cup mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, spinach, parsley, nutmeg, and your whisked egg. Mix well to combine and set aside. 

Check your pasta sauce and taste for seasoning level. Adjust if necessary. Drain your pasta, do not rinse – set aside. 

Prepare the baked ziti

Begin layering your ziti by ladleing some pasta sauce at the bottom, top with some ziti, and scoop your ricotta mixture on top of that. Use a spoon or spatula to spread the ricotta into an even layer. Top with half your mozzarella cheese and repeat the layers, minus the ricotta. The final layer should be meat sauce and then cheese. Top with fresh parsley and loosely cover with foil. 

Bake and Enjoy

Place your baking dish into your preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes covered and about 10-15 uncovered. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. SERVE AND ENJOY!

Baked Ziti on a plate being eaten with a fork.

Baked Ziti

This Italian-American recipe is a hit with the family. Baked Ziti is a comfort dish that's easy to make and will feed a crowd!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8 servings
Calories 220 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 LB Ground Turkey
  • 1 LB Ground Italian Sausage
  • 24 OZ Box Ziti Pasta
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion
  • 2 TBSP Tomato Paste
  • 1 TSP Garlic Paste or 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 28 OZ Tomato Purée
  • 28 OZ Diced Tomatoes
  • 1.5 TSP All-Purpose Seasoning Natures Seasoning
  • 2 TSP Italian Seasoning
  • 1 TSP Granulated Sugar
  • Salt and Pepper To Taste
  • 16 OZ Mozzarella Cheese Shredded
  • 2 TSP Avocado Oil
  • Freshly Grated Parm For Garnish
  • Freshly Chopped Chopped Parsley For Garnish

Ricotta Mixture

  • 15 OZ Ricotta Cheese
  • 1/2 Cup Mozzarella Cheese Shredded
  • 1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese Grated
  • 1/2 Cup Spinach Chopped
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Parsley Chopped
  • 1 Dash Nutmeg
  • 1 Large Egg Whisked

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  • In a large pot over medium-high heat, add your two tsp avocado oil. Next, add in your ground turkey and Italian sausage. Allow to cook down and chop into crumbles. Cook for 8-10 minutes or until browned. 
  • Add in your bell peppers and onion and mix to combine. Cook down for 4-5 minutes or until the onion becomes slightly translucent. Squeeze in your tomato paste and cook for 3-4 minutes to get the bitterness out and add your minced garlic or garlic paste. Stir until the garlic becomes fragrant. 
  • Add in your tomato purée and diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes. 
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 2 Tbsp salt. Add in 1 1/2 boxes of ziti and cook until just short of Al dente. 2 minutes shorter than the box recommendation.
  • In a medium bowl, add your ricotta, 1/2 cup mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, spinach, parsley, nutmeg, and your whisked egg. Mix well to combine and set aside. 
  • Check your pasta sauce and taste for seasoning level. Adjust if necessary. Drain your pasta, do not rinse – set aside. 
  • Begin layering your ziti by ladleing some pasta sauce at the bottom, top with some ziti, and scoop your ricotta mixture on top of that. Use a spoon or spatula to spread the ricotta into an even layer. Top with half your mozzarella cheese and repeat the layers, minus the ricotta. The final layer should be meat sauce and then cheese. Top with fresh parsley and loosely cover with foil. 
  • Place your baking dish into your preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes covered and about 10-15 uncovered. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. SERVE AND ENJOY!
Keyword Baked Ziti

FAQ

Can you freeze this dish?

Absolutely! You can prepare this dish ahead of time as the recipe shows. When it’s time to place in the oven you can cover with a layer of parchment paper and aluminum foil before placing in the freezer. When you are ready to make it, you can defrost it and place it in the oven.

How do you store the leftovers?

The leftovers can be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

What pairs well with baked ziti?

You can pair so many things with Baked Ziti such as a vegetable like broccoli, a simple salad, or asparagus. You can also serve it with garlic or Italian bread. There is no wrong way to serve this dish!

I Hope You Enjoy This Recipe!

If you try the recipe, don’t forget to rate the recipe, and let me know what you think in the comments. Leave a quick review & star rating ★ below! Take pictures, tag #onestopchop, and share them with me on InstagramFacebook, and Pinterest! I love seeing my recipes come to life in your kitchen!

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