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Baked Ziti

This Baked Ziti recipe is super easy because it uses store bought spaghetti sauce.  This is one of my family's favorite dishes and I can pull it together in a flash on a busy weeknight. 

 

If you are great at food-prepping, you can always brown the meat and onions ahead of time and refrigerate the meat until you are ready to use.

This pairs well with a side salad and garlic bread.  It is also great leftover for lunch the next day.

This dish is a crowd-pleaser and a super fast way to serve a large group.  It makes a great addition to any potluck meal and disappears quickly!

Ingredients

1 lb Italian sausage

1 lb ground beef

1 medium onion chopped

1 small can tomato paste

3 (regular size) jars of your favorite spaghetti sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

½ tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

A pinch of red pepper flakes

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1 cup mozzarella, shredded

½ cup parmesan cheese

1 lb ziti noodles

  1. Cook ziti as directed on the box, minus about 2 minutes.  These will continue to cook in the oven, so you don’t want them overcooked in the water.  Drain off the excess liquid and set aside.

  2. In a large skillet, brown the sausage and beef and add the onion.  Continue cooking until the onions are translucent.

  3. Add the tomato paste and stir until it is fully incorporated with no lumps.

  4. Add the salt, pepper, and sugar and stir.

  5. Add two jars of the sauce and allow this to cook on medium for about ten minutes.  Remove from the heat.

  6. Combine the ziti and sauce and stir well.

  7. Prepare a large casserole dish or baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

  8. Begin layering in this order:  ziti mixture, a little extra sauce from jar 3, a little of all three cheeses, repeat until everything has been added to the casserole dish, making sure you have enough cheese to go on top.

  9. Bake on 350 degrees until it is bubbly and the cheese is melted and slightly browned.

  10. Allow it to rest for about ten minutes or so before serving.

NOTE:  You may not need to use all of the third jar of sauce, this is really depending on how thick the sauce is that you are using.  I used about 2 ½ jars of Ragu Garden Style for the dish in this picture.  Once the leftovers are refrigerated, the noodles have a tendency to soak up all the extra liquid, so I use the remaining sauce to go on top of the leftovers when they are reheated. Also, the sugar balances the acid in the tomatoes, so don't leave it out.