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.
- 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
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Whisk cottage cheese, eggs, and 1 cup Parmesan together in medium bowl; set aside.
- 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.
- Meanwhile, heat oil and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat until garlic is fragrant but not brown, about 2 minutes.
- Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, oregano and basil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.
- In a medium saucepan, whisk cornstarch into heavy cream. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Remove pot from heat and add cottage cheese to thickened cream.
- Stir cottage cheese/cream mixture into tomato mixture and mix well.
- Add half of the cubed mozzarella and the pasta and stir until pasta is thoroughly coated with sauce.
- Transfer pasta mixture to a 9x13 inch baking dish.
- Sprinkle remaining cubed mozzarella and remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.
- 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