The easiest, meatiest and cheesiest Baked Ziti Casserole you'll ever have. A must try for everyone.
Oh white winter, how I do not love thee! This has really been a cruel winter and I cannot wait for it to be over. I have been confined to the indoors for way too long already. I am in a desperate need for some warmth and sunshine. Spring cannot come fast enough.
I've been dreaming about the chirping of the birds and the smell of the flowers, picnics in the park and bicycle rides, trips to the fair and the taste of funnel cake, the smell of barbecue and the sizzling sound of meat hitting the grill. What I wouldn't give for a big rack of barbecue baby back ribs cooked on my backyard grill. *drooling*
Until then, I will keep myself warm, filled and satisfied with this wonderful and super cheesy Baked Ziti Casserole.
A pasta Casserole is a great dish to make on really cold days. Not only does the oven warms the house, but the dish itself warms the soul. With this cold, warmth is all we need. And taste, of course. All of which is packed in this pasta dish.
Pasta is my daughter's favorite food and when she sees I make this baked ziti casserole, she gets extremely excited. She is a very picky eater, my daughter. But this she eats more than me, her brother and her father combined. To me that's a true sign of a perfect dish.
So, cook your pasta, make your meat sauce, grab some cheese (a lot of cheese), layer the ingredients on a casserole dish and bake away!
- 1 lb box ziti pasta
- ½ medium red onion, cut into small cubes
- ½ medium green bell pepper, cut into small cubes
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 jar marinara sauce, separate ½ cup sauce and set aside
- 15 oz container ricotta cheese, separated
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, separated
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Prepare pasta according to box instructions.
- Using a food processor or a blender, pulse together onion, bell pepper, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Mix the seasoning with ground beef.
- In a large skillet, pour oil and cook meat over medium heat until all meat has browned. Add marinara sauce. Stir until combined and let simmer for about 10 minutes. (Reserve ½ cup of marinara sauce for the baking pan.)
- In a big bowl, mix together pasta, meat sauce, half of the ricotta cheese and 1 cup of mozzarella cheese.
- Cover the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking pan with the left over marinara sauce. Transfer pasta to the baking pan. Drop spoonfuls of ricotta cheese over the top and sprinkle with leftover mozzarella cheese.
- Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake uncovered for about 15 minutes or until cheese has completely melted. Serve warm with a side of bread and/or salad.