Ultimate Baked Ziti

This is a slightly adapted version of the America’s Test Kitchen recipe for baked ziti. So yes, it’s a bit more work than mixing up some pasta with jarred sauce (which, as a busy mother I am not beyond doing), but if I’ve got some extra time, this is definitely the way to make baked ziti.

I’m not a cottage cheese fan, so I was skeptical of using it in place of ricotta. But truth be told, I’m not a huge fan of ricotta either.  It’s the texture I don’t like, especially when it’s cooked. Still, I was surprised that I liked the cottage cheese more. It stayed creamy during baking, just like the folks at America’s test kitchen said it would.  This does make a lot, so unless you are feeding an army, I would suggest cutting the recipe in half, or freezing some for later.

Ultimate Baked Ziti

Ultimate Baked Ziti
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 (16 oz.) container cottage cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound ziti or other short, tubular pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 medium garlic cloves , minced
  • 1 (28 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Whisk cottage cheese, eggs, and 1 cup Parmesan together in medium bowl; set aside.
  3. Prepare pasta according to package directions, cooking only until pasta begins to soften but is not yet cooked through, about 5 to 7 minutes. Drain pasta and leave in colander.
  4. Meanwhile, heat oil and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat until garlic is fragrant but not brown, about 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, oregano, basil and sugar. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.
  6. In a medium saucepan, whisk cornstarch into heavy cream. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes.
  7. Remove pot from heat and add cottage cheese to thickened cream.
  8. Stir cottage cheese/cream mixture into tomato mixture and mix well.
  9. Add half of the cubed mozzarella and the pasta and stir until pasta is thoroughly coated with sauce.
  10. Transfer pasta mixture to a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  11. Sprinkle remaining cubed mozzarella and remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.
  12. Cover baking dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue to cook until cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes longer. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Who Dished It Up First: Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

signature

Comments

  1. Wow, I often forget to use cottage cheese as a substitute for heavier things. This looks wonderful!

  2. this looks great. I always use cottage cheese in my lasagna – it is nice and light in the pasta.

  3. Looks delicious! This meal would go over very well in our home!

  4. Yum! If I put it in two small pans I could serve one and freeze the other. Love the cottage cheese!

  5. This looks delicious and perfect for dinner now that the weather’s changing. I’ll have to try using cottage cheese in place of ricotta next time I make ziti or lasagna. It’s gotta be healthier for you too.

  6. This looks wonderful, and I love the fresh and healthy ingredients. (Okay I know there is cream in it, I figure if ninety percent of the ingredients are good for you it counts as healthy!! :) Thank you for sharing such a delicious dish.

  7. This looks really rich and yummy. Love this stuff.

  8. There is definitely no lack of cheese or rich creaminess in this recipe – it looks very yummy indeed! It’s fun to step up a recipe that is usually just thrown quickly together. :-)

  9. Truth be told, I’m not really a ricotta fan either. I’ll have to try cottage cheese. Your Zita looks delicious.

  10. This sounds great! What I like about it, is that you don’t SEE the white cheese. When I make lasagna, I use cottage cheese or cream cheese and my son can SEE it and he doesn’t like it. If he were blind, he would love it. This is a much better alternative to him going blind. :-)

  11. Yum! I love all things pasta… baked ziti is certainly a favorite! Thanks for sharing this version :)

  12. Oh my gosh, this look delicious! And so beautiful! Your photographs are gorgeous.
    I’ve recently launched my own blog, I’d love for you to check it out and let me know what you think :) http://www.prettygoodfood.com
    Thanks, and Happy Cooking!!!

  13. This is super good and super forgiving. Added Sausage, i bought the wrong the size of the tomatoes and sauce (inverted the amounts), added half the cream, doubled the basil and oregano, forgot to add the eggs (oops), and it was still FANTASTIC. Thanks for posting!!!

  14. I tried this tonight and it was a huge hit! I did make a substitution as we don’t like chunky tomatoes in our sauce. Instead of the diced tomatoes, I added 1.5 pounds of browned ground beef to make it a little more hearty. It was so creamy and yummy. Everyone is already asking when we’re going to have it again!

  15. I made this last night and it was so good! My boyfriend, a vegetarian, said it was the “best thing I’ve ever made” for him. I was like, have I been busting my bum making you good food for the last 4 years for nothing? lol.

    Small comment… you forget to mention when to put the sugar in the mixture in the directions. I remembered RIGHT before I poured the mixture into the glass pan so I was able to quickly sprinkle some in, but you should include what step to add it for others!

    Thanks – I’ll be making this again!

Speak Your Mind

*