I make baked ziti a few times a year, mainly when I have leftover Sunday Sauce. It’s definitely the ultimate in Italian-American comfort food: four cheeses combined with ziti and sauce, tiny bits of meat (pepperoni, sausage, and meatballs), and then baked until it all blends together.
It’s kind of like a poor man’s version of lasagna. No need to worry about layering meat and cheese, or tearing the sheets of cooked lasagna.
You don’t need to add more salt to the four cheese mixture, that is, unless you’re one of those people who salt everything. The leftover sauce and the cooked pasta provide more than an adequate amount of salt. When it’s all mixed together, the cheese absorbs the flavors in the sauce. The cheese, too, is salted.
And, no, this is not a low-fat pasta dish.
Ziti Baked with Four Cheeses Recipe
- 5 cups leftover Sunday Sauce heated, meat removed
- 1¾ cups ricotta cheese whole or partial skim milk
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella
- 1 cup grated parmesan and Romano mixed
- 1 pound ziti
- 1½ tablespoons salt
- 5 quarts water
Remove meat from the Sunday Sauce and reserve. (Small pieces of meat may remain.) Keep sauce warm until ready to use. Mix together the cheeses and set aside.
Add salt to water and bring to a boil. Add pasta and stir; return to rapid boil. For al dente pasta, cook uncovered, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes. Drain well.
Mix the hot ziti and cheeses together in a large bowl. The hot ziti will softened the cheese. When the cheese is soft and easy to stir, add 4 cups sauce, one cup at a time, and stir well. Pour the mixed ziti into a 13x9-inch baking dish, then cover with the remaining cup of sauce.
Bake, uncovered, at 350°F until sauce mixture is bubbly, about 40 minutes. Serve with reserved meat.