This dish was something that I made for a party last semester, and it turned out to be a pretty big hit. One of the greatest things that I love about this recipe too is the flexibility of it. It doesn’t have to be ziti that you put into it; it could be penne, macaroni, spaghetti, all different types of pasta (but you’d need to scale the amount of pasta to the sauce mixture). It’s also a really hearty dish that packs some rich flavor, with the three types of cheese accentuating the beef, onions, and sauce, all coming together with the pasta. It’s a winning combination.
~ 1 lb. ziti (usually 1 box)
~ 1 medium onion, finely chopped
~ 1 lb. ground beef
~ 1 jar (24 oz.) spaghetti sauce
~ 12 slices mozzarella cheese
~ 1 container (16 oz.) ricotta cheese
~ 1 egg
~ 4 tbsp Parmesan cheese
~ Salt and pepper
The first thing to do is to prepare all of the onions. Go ahead and chop them up into small pieces, fit for putting into a sauce. Then, take out a large skillet and heat it up on medium-high heat. Crumble your meat into the skillet and cook that for a bit, before adding in the onions as well to cook for a little bit. Once both items have been cooking for a little while (like 2 – 3 minutes), pour in the jar of spaghetti sauce into the skillet and mix everything up. Simmer the mixture over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes.
While the sauce is going, bring a pot of water up to a boil. Pour in the box of ziti into the water and cook to the box’s instructions. About 4 minutes before the pasta is slated to be done, take out a large mixing bowl and put the ricotta cheese into it. Crack an egg into the ricotta and mix it up in order to give it a smoother texture. When the pasta is all done, strain it out and add the pasta into the bowl with the ricotta cheese. Toss the entire mixture until all of the ricotta is well-distributed among the pasta. At this point, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
By now, the sauce should be finished so remove that from the heat. Take out a 9″ x 13″ baking dish and start to layer up the dish. From the bottom, go in this order: Sauce -> Ziti / Ricotta -> Parmesan / Oregano -> Layer of mozzarella. Repeat this process one more time to top off the baking dish. Take out some aluminum foil and cover the dish before throwing it into the oven for 30 minutes.
Once it’s done, take it out of the oven and serve it up instantly. This dish is definitely best eaten warm, and it’s always a fun sight to see strands of melted cheese erupting from the dish!