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Meatless Baked Ziti

Super hearty and delicious meatless baked ziti with ricotta, mozzarella, and Pecorino Romano cheese.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 6
Calories 751kcal
Author James

Ingredients

For the sauce

  • 2 28 ounce canned plum tomatoes blender pulsed
  • 3 ounces tomato paste
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

For the baked ziti

  • 1 pound ziti
  • 1 pound block whole milk mozzarella 2/3 cubed, 1/3 grated
  • 1 pound ricotta
  • 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano grated

Instructions

For the sauce

  • Saute onion for 3-5 minutes in olive oil on medium-low heat in a large pot until soft. Add garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes more until fragrant.
  • Add the tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes, stirring with a spoon. Add the plum tomatoes and season with pepper.
  • Cook for 15 minutes uncovered, stirring frequently to avoid any sticking. After 15 minutes, taste-test the sauce and adjust salt and pepper if required.
  • Keep the sauce warm and set aside.

For the baked ziti

  • Preheat oven to 375f. Boil pasta to 1-2 minutes less than package instructions.
  • In a large bowl mix pasta with 2-3 cups of sauce and 1 pound of ricotta cheese. Mix until smooth and creamy.
  • Coat a 4-5 quart baking dish with a thin layer of sauce. Add 1/3 of the pasta. Sprinkle 1/3 of the cubed mozzarella, 1/3 of the grated Pecorino Romano and a bit more sauce on top. Repeat for another 2 layers.
  • On the top layer add a bit more sauce, the shredded mozzarella, and the remaining Pecorino Romano cheese.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and lightly brown. If a more crispy top is desired, broil for 1-2 minutes, but watch carefully to avoid burning.
  • Remove from oven and let baked ziti sit for 5-10 minutes to settle. Serve with remaining sauce on the side, more grated cheese, and Italian bread. Enjoy!

Video

Notes

  • Undercook the pasta!  Fully boiled pasta will become mushy after baking for another 30 minutes, so shoot for 'al dente' or even a bit firmer.  About 2 minutes less than the box instructions.
  • Put a nice layer of sauce on the bottom of the baking dish to avoid sticking.
  • Add the pasta in layers with the cubes of mozzarella cheese distributed randomly.  This gives a better texture to the dish with a bigger bite of cheese in one spot than the other.  It's not required but a nice touch.
  • Bake the pasta until the cheese is bubbly and slightly browned on top.  If you want, broil the top for 1-2 minutes to crisp it up right before serving, but watch carefully to avoid burning.  

Nutrition

Calories: 751kcal | Carbohydrates: 71.9g | Protein: 40.3g | Fat: 35.3g | Saturated Fat: 17.8g | Cholesterol: 87mg | Sodium: 826mg | Potassium: 508mg | Fiber: 4.7g | Sugar: 12.6g | Calcium: 618mg | Iron: 4mg