Homemade baked ziti anyone? This is the perfect meal to make in batch! It’s meal prep and freezer friendly and is absolutely delicious. I’ve provided the base for the recipe that I used but please feel free to make adjustments as necessary.
I love meaty pasta bakes like baked ziti so this is right up my ally, but if you don’t like ground meat, use shredded chicken or skip the meat completely. Don’t like carrots? Use chopped spinach for some extra iron and vitamins. Make it all kid-friendly by using my Nutri-bullet hack to make the veggies into a puree.
I love this baked ziti so much and my hubby and I have been enjoying it all week as a quick and easy lunch. We have a whole batch leftover that’s chilling the freezer for another time. Make this for someone who just had a baby during the pandemic and can’t get to the kitchen to cook or make it for a neighbor who just moved into the neighborhood. It’s just such a great big batch dish that takes little effort or preparation.
Remember, the recipe is just a guide, customize it to your personal preferences. I have a Tiktok tutorial on how I made this dish from start to finish. Check it out and watch it before you make it.
For Meat Sauce
- 1 lb of lean ground beef
- 2 sweet Italian sausage links
- 4 carrots, pureed
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 a red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 jar of RAO's 4 cheese sauce
- Pinch of herbs de Provence or Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp of smoked paprika
- 1 tsp of garlic powder
- 1 tsp of onion powder
- pinch of sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 15oz container of ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 1 lb box of Ziti Noodles
- 16oz bag of shredded or fresh mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup of heavy cream
- Olive Oil
- Heat oven to 375 degrees.
- In a deep saucepan, sautee onions and bell peppers until soft, about 3-5 minutes.
- Once vegetables start to soften up, add ground beef and Italian sausage (remove the casing from the Italian sausage).
- Break up the meat with a wooden spoon and brown for about 10-12 minutes until no red is visible.
- To a food processor or Nutri bullet, blend carrots with a 1/4 cup of water until pureed.
- Add carrot mixture to the meat and season with herbs de Provence, salt and pepper, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder.
- Mix to incorporate the seasoning into the meat mixture.
- Add the full jar of RAO's four-cheese sauce to the meat.
- Mix to combine and add a pinch of sugar and allow the meat sauce to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
- While the meat sauce simmers, boil the ziti noodles according to package instructions for al dente.
- Next, make the ricotta mixture. Combine the ricotta and egg in a small bowl and mix in the cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir the ingredients until well combined. Set aside.
- Once ziti noodles are cooked, strain, and set aside.
- The meat sauce is done when it has a slightly thicker texture and meat is tender, after about 20 minutes.
- To a bowl, combine ziti noodles with the ricotta mixture and stir until all the noodles are well coated in the ricotta.
- Next, add in half the meat sauce to the ziti and ricotta. Stir until well combined.
- To that mixture, add the heavy cream and stir.
- In a deep baking dish, put a layer of the ziti mixture followed by a layer of meat sauce and a layer of mozzarella cheese.
- Continue this layering until you reach the top of the baking dish.
- The last layer should be meat followed by plenty of mozzarella cheese.
- Bake covered with foil for the first 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly on top.
This recipe makes enough for up to eight servings, so it's ideal for meal prepping or for freezing.
P.S. Check out my last recipe here!