This dinnertime favorite is easy to make, feeds a crowd, and is great for making ahead or freezing.
- 1 pound ziti
- 1 pound 85% lean ground beef
- 1 teaspoon salt (divided, plus more for pasta water)
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (divided)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder (divided)
- 2 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (divided)
- 4 cups marinara sauce
- 24 ounces low-moisture ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a generous pinch of salt. Once boiling, add the ziti to the water. Cook for 9-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente. Drain the pasta in a large colander, and rinse thoroughly with cold water. While the pasta cooks, prepare the meat sauce.
- Spray an extra-large skillet generously with nonstick cooking spray, then set over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, garlic powder, and 1 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning to the skillet. Cook the beef for 4-5 minutes, breaking it up with a spatula, until lightly browned.
- Drain the fat from the skillet. Return the skillet to the stove, and turn down the heat to medium-low. Pour the marinara sauce over the meat and stir to combine. Cover and simmer for 2-3 minutes. While the sauce simmers, prepare the cheese mixture.
- Place the ricotta, Parmesan, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, garlic powder, and 1 tsp. Italian seasoning in a large mixing bowl. Stir with a rubber spatula to thoroughly combine.
- Return the drained ziti to the large pot. Add the meat sauce and stir to thoroughly coat the noodles.
- Transfer about 1/3 of the sauced pasta to the prepared baking dish. Drop half the ricotta mixture by spoonfuls over the ziti, and gently spread it into an even layer. Sprinkle 1 cup of mozzarella cheese over the ricotta. Repeat with another 1/3 of the noodles, the remaining ricotta, and another cup of mozzarella cheese. Top with the last 1/3 of noodles. Sprinkle the last cup of mozzarella cheese in an even layer over the top of the dish.
- Cover the baking dish with a sheet of aluminum foil.
- Bake the spaghetti for 40 minutes on the middle rack of oven.
- Remove the aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes longer, until the cheese on top is golden-brown.
- Check to see that ziti is done. Remove from oven or add time as needed.
- Allow the ziti to rest for 20 minutes before serving.