Having family and friends in your home during the holidays go hand and hand, but it’s sometimes difficult to figure out what to feed them all. So I give you the solution to your problem: Individual Baked Ziti. Serve with a salad and you’re good to go. Feeling extra creative? Add some garlic bread. Oh yeah, and did I mention that you’ll have leftovers for lunch the next day?
If you’ve never made this before, Baked Ziti is a classic baked pasta dish. It’s basically some kind of tomato meat sauce baked in a dish with some kind of cheese and, of course, ziti noodles. There’s a good reason so many families make baked ziti: This cheesey comfort food only takes 10 minutes to prep, then just place in the oven and let it bake. This recipe gets the all-around gold medal for ease of preparation, popularity, AND deliciousness. Make it tonight, you won’t regret it.
1 pound ziti pasta
1 pound bulk Italian sausage or ground beef or pork
1 large onion, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary (or basil), minced
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
32 oz. marinara sauce
1/2 pound of mozzarella cheese, grated
1 cup grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
1. Heat a large pot of water to a strong boil. Add the pasta and cook at a rolling boil, uncovered, until the pasta is al dente. Drain the pasta through a colander. Toss with a little olive oil so the pasta does not stick together.
2. Start the sauce. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering hot, add the bulk sausage. Break up any large chunks of sausage as it cooks. Brown well.
3. When the meat is mostly browned, add the onions and stir well to combine. Sauté everything until the onions are translucent and beginning to brown, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic, basil, Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes and stir to combine. Cook 1 minute, then add the tomato sauce and stir well. Bring to a simmer.
4. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of 10 ramekins. Ladle a spoonful of sauce into the pasta, stir it well and then add the pasta into the casserole. The number of servings will depend on the size of your ramekins. You can also use a large baking dish to cook.
5. Pour the rest of the sauce over the pasta, and sprinkle on top both the mozzarella and the Parmesan cheese.Bake in the oven until the top is lightly browned and the cheese melted, about 20 minutes.