Monday, October 1, 2012

Baked ziti

This is a DELICIOUS, hearty recipe that makes 2 pans!
(I make one as a "freezer meal.")
Busy mamas rejoice!!
You could also make one giant, deep-dish pan...say, for a herd of hungry men.
Regardless of how you do, make this tonight!

Adapted from Six Sisters' {HERE}.


1 lb dry pasta (ziti, penne, or large elbow macaroni)
1 onion, chopped
1 lb lean ground beef, seasoned with salt, pepper, and minced garlic (to taste)
*crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 large jar marinara sauce
1 ~14.5 oz can tomatoes, diced or whole (that you squish up yourself!)
1 small can low-sodium V8 (or tomato juice/sauce)
1 1/2 c sour cream
~8 slices provolone
~2 c shredded Mozzarella (or Italian blend)
~1/4 c shredded or grated Parmesan


Bring large pot of salted water to a boil.
Cook pasta until still quite al dente (about 7-8 minutes), drain.

In large skillet, brown beef, onion, and garlic in olive oil.
(If you like it spicy, now would be the time to add a pinch of red pepper flakes.)

Add the tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, and tomato juice.

Simmer at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
(If you wanted, you could make this as an awesome bolognese pasta sauce!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray two ~11x7 pans with cooking spray.
(I make one in glass for dinner tonight, the other in a disposable tin pan for later/freezing.)

Layer as follows in EACH of the pans:
Spoonful of sauce
1/4 of the pasta
1/4 of the sauce
4 slices of Provolone
1/2 of the sour cream
1/4 of the pasta
1/4 of the Mozzarella
1/4 of the sauce
Top each with the remaining Mozzarella and Parmesan

You "fancy", huh?

Bake covered for ~30 minutes.
Remove foil and cook for approximately 10 minutes longer,
until cheese is brown and bubbly.

If you can resist, allow to rest for a few minutes in order for everything to "set".
Otherwise, your first piece may fall apart...but will still taste incredible.
I assure you of this.

To freeze the other pan...
Allow the meat/tomato sauce to cool.
Wrap plastic wrap, then 2 layers of tin foil, over the pan.
(Do both of these steps even if your disposable pan has a lid!)
Label with cooking instructions and expiration date.
Whenever you're hungry after a busy day,
just cook for ~45 minutes in a 350 degree oven until cheese is bubby!
(Note:  You can cook straight from the freezer  OR allow to partially thaw in fridge all day before cooking for dinner.  If you do the former, just know that you may need to cook a little longer!)

Freezer meals also make a thoughtful gift for a new mama or friend post-surgery!


P.S.  Confession:  My husband loved this recipe SO much the first time I made this that the second pan didn't even make it to the freezer.
We ate it twice in one week!
Pasta + meat + sour cream + lots of cheese = One Happy Husband.

~photos by b~

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