Baked Ziti

7 Feb

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This recipe has fed countless school families and church families throughout the years.  It has been served at church dinners and school functions alike, and is always a hit.  Many years ago, Grace Forte, one of our school parents made the first pan for the hospitality room at a basketball tournament at CFS, and the rest is history.  Ever since then, it has appeared regularly at various school and church dinners.  Grace came from a large extended family and  she loved cooking, entertaining, and just generally caring for people and their needs.  Grace now makes her home in heaven, but she is remembered every time this gem of a recipe is prepared and served.  Thank you Grace! Scroll to the bottom for the large serving version of this recipe, which will fit in a large institutional size foil pan and yields approximately 25 generous servings.

2 boxes ziti or penne pasta,  cooked and drained (I used 2 boxes Dreamfield penne, 13.25 oz. box each)

1 lb. ricotta cheese

1 lb. shredded mozzarella cheese plus additional mozzarella to sprinkle on top

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1 large (28 oz.) can and 1 (15 oz.) can crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce (I used crushed)

1 Tablespoon dried basil

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves fresh garlic, minced

Directions:

Saute the minced garlic in the olive oil just until fragrant.  It doesn’t take long and will burn easily if left for too long.  Add the sauce or crushed tomatoes, basil and salt to taste.  Simmer while the pasta is cooking.

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Cook and drain the pasta.  Dump the warm pasta into a large bowl and add the cheeses and about half of the tomato sauce mixture.

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Stir until fully combined.  You can add a little more additional sauce if needed to fully coat the pasta.

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Pour mixture into a greased baking dish, and sprinkle additional mozzarella cheese on top.

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Bake in a 350 degree oven until hot and heated through.  The top layers of pasta will begin to color just a bit when it is done.

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To serve, spoon the baked pasta mixture on serving plate and ladle additional hot sauce over the top.  This is easy but incredibly delicious!  Great for a family dinner or for a crowd at church!

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Large Recipe – Serves 25 generously

4 lbs. pasta (penne or ziti)

3-4 pints ricotta cheese

2 lbs. shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2-1 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1-2 economy size cans Hunt’s tomato sauce

garlic

olive oil

basil

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