I found a very incredible model of baked ziti in 2017 after I began cooking from Colu Henry’s Back Pocket Pasta. Huge, hearty, family-style pastas are an awesome love of mine, however my baked ziti makes an attempt had been at all times simply so-so. I struggled with total cohesiveness, and the ricotta combination at all times tended to bake up slightly drier than I hoped. Colu’s approach was a game-changer. She recommends a 50/50 mix of ricotta and creme fraîche in her recipe – it retains every thing silky and wealthy, and I’ve by no means seemed again. And yep, bitter cream can even work in a pinch.baked ziti in a metal tin hot from the oven with lots of melted cheese on top

What Makes Nice Baked Ziti?

If you wish to make one of the best baked ziti, give attention to two issues: how lengthy you cook dinner the pasta, and the sauce. The sauce is king right here. You need to use good, flavorful tomatoes, and also you need to let every thing simmer down right into a thick, chunky, vibrant pink sauce. A little bit of endurance is vital. See the sauce within the picture beneath? Hold simmering. On the pasta entrance, keep away from over-cooking within the preliminary stage, the boil. The ziti will proceed cooking because the pasta bakes – you need to arrive on the end line with excellent pasta. For those who overcook throughout the preliminary boil, the pasta will develop into too comfortable and unstructured.

Baked Ziti: The Components

  • Dried ziti pasta: Use a good-quality dried pasta right here. Ziti is the namesake form to make use of, however penne is a legit various and simpler to search out tbh. For a little bit of added vitamin, discover complete wheat pastas, or pasta made with lentils or chickpeas. As I’ve talked about in earlier pasta recipes, a eternally favourite of mine is the Monograno Felicetti Farro Penne Rigate. You may even make baked ziti gluten-free by swapping in one of many GF pastas.
  • Child spinach: One notice right here, in case your child spinach has lengthy thick stems, go forward and snap the most important offenders off. Apart from that I don’t trouble chopping or fussing.
  • Canned tomatoes: Search for good-quality diced canned tomatoes. Word that you simply’ll want each a 28-ounce *and* a 14-ounce can. I are inclined to seize fire-roasted for this recipe, however you don’t must!
    red sauce for baked ziti in a skillet with a wooden spoon
  • Sausage: I not often purchase or cook dinner with faux meat, however that is one recipe the place I take advantage of Unimaginable sausage for the meat part. It simply helps verify all of the bins for a giant, family-style baked ziti that everybody can get on board with. One other various is to make use of this mushroom ragù as your sauce, instead of the pink sauce with sausage posted beneath. 
  • Cheeses: Three cheese are in play right here. Use recent mozzarella if potential. It’ll usually be in liquid, and any dimension is ok – you’ll be tearing it into smaller items. For the grated cheese Colu recommends Pecorino Romano, however if you happen to are inclined to hold Parmesan available, go forward and use that – freshly grated. And the ricotta performs one other key roll right here, so use one you’d take pleasure in consuming straight – on a cracker or slice of toast.
    ingredients for baked ziti in a baking tin ready to go into oven
  • Creme fraîche: The wildcard on this baked ziti is the addition of creme fraîche. To make your personal, you may add 1 tablespoon of cultured buttermilk or yogurt to a cup of heavy cream. Stir properly, cowl with a clear dishtowel, and permit to take a seat out in your counter for 12 hours or so, till it thickens. Refrigerate till prepared to make use of. Alternately, you need to use bitter cream right here. It’s tangier, however in a great way!

baked ziti being served on a marble table with drinks and plates


Listed below are some favourite variations on this baked ziti that I’ve cooked over time.

  • Make it Spicy: To make this baked ziti feisty and spicy, add a little bit of spicy Calabrian pepper paste (the one I purchase most is known as Bomba di Calabria) to the sauce after including the spinach. Go simple, a few of these pastes are wildly spicy. But in addition go stronger than you would possibly in any other case as a result of the sauce can be minimize with all that dairy. Style and regulate.
  • Make it Gluten Free: You can also make this recipe gluten-free through the use of GF pasta instead of conventional pasta. On the time I’m scripting this the Unimaginable sausage is GF, however double verify – in case you’re utilizing one other model or their product modifications.
  • Baked Ziti with Mushrooms: I do a model of this baked ziti utilizing this mushroom ragù, and it’s equally incredible. Principally, fill a 12-inch skillet to 1/2-inch or so beneath the rim, and stir within the 5 ounces or spinach. Then proceed with the recipe as written. Principally, don’t skimp on the quantity of sauce you’re utilizing.  https://www.101cookbooks.com/mushroom-ragu/
  • Toss in Some Wildcards: Loads of occasions when making baked ziti, I’ll toss substances in on a whim. No matter I’ve at hand. A couple of of the extra profitable additions embody the next: torn olives, plenty of lemon or orange zest, further spinach or herbs, deeply caramelized onions, goat cheese instead of half the mozzarella.

baked ziti in a metal tin

Baked Ziti: Make Forward Suggestions

This recipe makes a massive pan of baked ziti. We usually eat half and freeze half leading to simple meals within the coming weeks. One of the simplest ways I’ve discovered to freeze baked ziti is to begin by refrigerating your baked ziti till it is rather chilly. This makes it simple to slice into exact, particular person parts. Prepare the parts on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze till strong. Switch to freezer luggage for as much as 6 weeks. Reheat, lined in foil, on a baking sheet (or in baking pan), in a 375F oven till bubbly and sizzling all through.

back pocket pasta cookbook
colu henry and husband

Again Pocket Pasta & Colu

Colu’s archives are a gold-mine of low elevate, fabulous meals. Within the years since Back Pocket Pasta was printed, she additionally wrote Colu Cooks: Easy Fancy Food. You want somebody like Colu Henry in your life. When Again Pocket Pasta was printed, I wrote, “She’s a kind of trendy associates who will let you know the place to attain the prettiest clothes, provide help to ebook one of the best journey locations, and fortunately level you towards your subsequent good learn.” She’s the queen of bringing easy type to the weeknight dinner desk and her books are brimming with informal recipes achievable with little greater than a fairly stocked pantry and a little bit of seasonal aptitude. You may comply with her here and here.

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