Whenever comfort food comes to mind, this dish should too because it’s just that good. I learned this dish one summer when visiting my family in New Jersey and since then my family loves it. They always request this dish and thankfully it’s not that hard or takes long to make. This dish is great for family reunions and your child’s birthday party because of its complexity and deliciousness. Here is my recipe for Baked Ziti:

Ingredients

#Pasta

  • Ziti (pasta) – 1 large pack or 2 boxes (depending on the size of the package)
  • Cheese – 3 cups (the cheesier the better)
  • Ragu or Presto marinara sauce – 1 bottle (for both pasta and #Minced Beef)
  • Tomatoes – 4
  • Salt – 2 tablespoons
  • Parsley and Oregano flakes – 3 teaspoons each
  • Oil – 2 teaspoons
  • Milk – 1 cup
  • Butter – 3 small cubes

Minced beef

  • Minced beef – 1 pound
  • Black pepper – 2 teaspoons
  • Green seasoning (blended chive, celery, pimento peppers, garlic, onions) - 4 tablespoons
  • Garlic – 3 cloves
  • Onions – 1
  • Ginger powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Maggi all purpose seasoning (for taste)
  • Brown sugar – 2 tablespoons
  • Ketchup – 2 tablespoons (for taste)

Instructions

  • Season the beef. In a bowl, add green seasoning to beef, all purpose seasoning, black pepper, ginger, ketchup, mix and refrigerate for an hour.
  • Boil the pasta in a large pot of water. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and when the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook until the pasta is al dente.
  • When the pasta is cooked, drain and set aside.
  • Chop onions, garlic and tomatoes.
  • Prepare the beef. Heat a skillet with oil, add chopped ingredients and cook for two minutes. Then add the seasoned beef and let cook (covered).
  • Keep stirring beef until cooked, add ½ of the Ragu sauce, brown sugar and bring to a simmer until combined and cooked. Taste as the beef simmers and add a bit more all purpose seasoning if needed.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F and grease baking dish.
  • Melt butter in pasta pot and return drained pasta to pot (on low heat), add milk, 2 cups cheese, black pepper, cooked beef, the remaining Ragu sauce, 2 teaspoons of oregano and parsley (set the remainder aside for garnish) and mix.
  • When all ingredients are combined and cheese is melted, pour the pasta to baking dish.
  • Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and garnish with oregano and parsley flakes.
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes until the cheese is melted and the top is slightly browned.
  • Set aside, let cool and serve.

This dish can be so versatile because you can incorporate different meats and make it spicy and fun.

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You can use Italian sausage, shredded chicken, beef, and sausage or strictly veggies. Either way, this is a must try dish that everyone will love, I know I did. And don’t forget to pass this recipe on to your family and friends.