Yesterday, the weather here in Seattle looked like anything but Spring. It was a brisk 43°F and the rain was blowing sideways for most of the day. It’s days like yesterday that make me grateful that I’m not a mailman, or in outside sales, or construction… but I am grateful that I have a yummy recipe for cheese-y, creamy pasta that will warm me from the inside-out. Easy-Peasy Weeknight Baked Ziti is the perfect dish to warm you up and lift your spirits.
It’s as simple as making a quick tomato sauce, then cooking the pasta while you whip up a creamy béchamel. Stir it all together and top it with cheese. Wouldn’t it be great if everything was this delicious AND this easy?
This is a terrific recipe for potlucks and big family dinners, too. Kids L-O-V-E it and it feeds a crowd if you just add a salad and some crusty bread. I’m SO looking forward to the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.
If you are looking for easy weeknight meals, you might also like:
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes
- 1 (28oz) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 tsp. sugar
- Kosher salt
- ½ cup fresh basil, chopped
- 1 lb. pasta (see summary)
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 2 Tbsp. flour
- Freshly ground pepper
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 cups whole milk
- ½ cup each asiago and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shredded
- 8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
- Put the pasta water on to boil.
- Heat the oven to 400°F.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, quickly saute the garlic in the olive oil (do NOT let it brown). Dump both cans of tomato into the pan. Season with sugar and salt and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add the basil and simmer over low heat for another 10 minutes.
- Add salt to the boiling pasta water and let it come back to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 6-8 minutes (it should still be a bit chewy).
- While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, pepper and nutmeg and continue cooking for about 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and simmer until thickened, whisking constantly.
- Coat a 9x13 casserole with pan coating.
- Drain the pasta then toss it with the tomato sauce in the 9x13 pan.
- Pour the béchamel sauce over the pasta and stir to combine.
- Top the dish with cheese and bake until heated through. Use the broiler for about 3 minutes to brown the cheese.