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Baked Ziti with Mini Meatballs


If pasta could give you a warm hug, this is it. This baked ziti screams comfort food as it serves up al dente ziti with mini beef meatballs, just the right amount of oozy cheese, tomato sauce that hits the spot, sticking to that macaroni just like a good sauce should. Time it right by starting with your sauce and making your meatballs while it cooks. It’s no sweat to knock this out for dinner!

Prep Time 30 minutes

Total Cook Time 60 minutes

Preheat oven to 350

Serves 6 - 8

What Do I Need?

Sauce

¼ Cup Olive Oil

2 Large Cans (28 ounces each) of San Marzano Tomatoes

7 Cloves of Garlic (minced)

½ teaspoon of Oregano

Salt & Pepper

4 T Ricotta Cheese

1 Box of Ziti

1 Cup Mozzarella (shredded)

1/2 Cup Parmigiano Reggiano (grated)

Meatballs

1 Lb Ground Beef

1.5 t Parsley (chopped)

¼ Cup Breadcrumbs

1 T Milk

½ Cup Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese (grated)

2 Eggs (beaten)

S & P

Now What?

Open your cans of tomatoes and put in a large bowl, crush each tomato with your hands, save the excess juice in the cans. In a large saucepan heat ¼ cup of olive oil and saute your garlic for about 2 minutes, or until it is fragrant and golden. Do not let it brown! Add ¼ of your crushed tomatoes and saute for 5 minutes, add the remainder of your crushed tomatoes and saute for an additional 5 minutes, now add your reserved tomato juice. Fill one can with water and add the water to your sauce, stir and keep at a simmer. Now add your ½ teaspoon of oregano and salt and allow to simmer for 15 minutes or until you are ready to add your meatballs, stirring frequently.

While your sauce is cooking, add all of your ingredients for your meatballs into a medium bowl and mix by hand. Do not overwork the meat, mix it only until the ingredients are evenly distributed then roll into ¾” balls and set aside.

Now is a good time to taste your sauce and add more salt or oregano if needed. I typically add an additional pinch of each here!

Heat ¼ cup of oil in a saute pan and brown your meatballs for about 2 – 3 minutes each. Work in batches and be gentle, when browned add them to the sauce and stir them in gently. Allow to simmer lowly for another 10 minutes. If you find your sauce is too thick, add ¼ cup of warm water.

While your meatballs finish cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook your ziti for 8 minutes. After 8 minutes drain and pour ziti into a 9 x 13 baking dish, mix in ½ cup of mozzarella and half of your Parmigiano, next carefully fold 4 tablespoons of ricotta cheese into your sauce and mix gently. Ladle in your sauce and meatballs working it into the pasta until it is all in and evenly distributed. Spread your remaining mozzarella and Parmigiano over the top and bake for 30 minutes.

Take Note: You can make prep on this faster by making the sauce the day before!


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