Straightforward Baked Ziti Recipe – Love and Lemons


I flip to this straightforward baked ziti recipe anytime I am serving a crowd. Stuffed with creamy ricotta, tomato sauce, and contemporary spinach, it is consolation meals at its finest.

Baked ziti

Baked ziti is a dish that has a particular place in each Jack’s coronary heart and mine. Rising up, I ate it in any respect types of gatherings – commencement events, holidays, and extra – and Jack’s mother makes it yearly on Christmas Eve. With the vacations proper across the nook, I assumed now could be the proper time to share my baked ziti recipe.

Straightforward to make and excellent for serving a crowd, it’s the recipe I flip to every time we’re internet hosting household or mates, one we’ve made and cherished time and time once more. Whether or not you serve it at a vacation feast or on an everyday weeknight, I hope you take pleasure in it too.

Ziti pasta with marinara sauce

My Baked Ziti Recipe

My baked ziti recipe is a brisker tackle the variations I ate rising up, which have been typically crammed with floor beef or Italian sausage. I swap home made marinara sauce for the meat sauce, after which, I amp it up with these three key parts:

  • Contemporary spinach – I sauté a full pound of spinach to make this recipe additional contemporary. I like the way in which it mingles with the noodles, and it provides such a beautiful pop of inexperienced.
  • Lemony ricotta – In between the layers of noodles and spinach, I dollop huge spoonfuls of lemony ricotta cheese. It offers this baked ziti an unbelievable creamy richness and a burst of shiny taste. Word: for one of the best creamy texture, make sure to use complete milk ricotta on this recipe!
  • Smoked mozzarella – If it’s what you’ve gotten available, common mozzarella cheese will work right here, however utilizing smoked mozzarella actually takes it excessive. It provides a scrumptious savory taste to the pasta’s Italian seasoning. You gained’t be capable of get sufficient!

In fact, I at all times end the entire thing with a giant handful of contemporary basil and parsley!

Baked ziti recipe

Find out how to Make Baked Ziti

Making this baked ziti recipe is simple! Right here’s what it’s worthwhile to do:

First, cook dinner the pasta! Convey a big pot of salted water to a boil, and cook dinner the pasta till it turns into al dente. Watch out to not overcook it! It is going to soften extra whereas it bakes.

Whereas the pasta cooks, make the lemony ricotta. Combine the ricotta cheese with lemon zest, oregano, garlic, salt, and pink pepper flakes for a contact of warmth.

Subsequent, sauté the spinach. Drain the pasta, and warmth a glug of olive oil in the identical pot. Sauté the spinach till it’s simply wilted. I work in batches right here, cooking 1/2 pound of spinach at a time, in order that I can take all of it off the warmth whereas it’s nonetheless vibrant inexperienced. Take away the sautéed spinach from the pot, roughly chop it, and set it apart.

Easy baked ziti

Then, combine all the pieces collectively! Return many of the spinach and all of the pasta to the pot, together with all however 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce. Stir till all the pieces is properly mixed.

Lastly, layer it up. Unfold the remaining sauce on the underside of a giant casserole dish, and unfold half of the pasta combination over it. Dollop within the ricotta and the reserved spinach, and scoop the remainder of the pasta on prime. Cowl all of it with a layer of grated smoked mozzarella and a little bit of grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese. Drizzle with olive oil, and bake till the cheese is golden brown and effervescent.

Serve scorching, and revel in!

How to make baked ziti

Baked Ziti Serving Recommendations

Serve this baked ziti with crusty bread or home made focaccia and a giant salad like my Caesar salad, broccoli salad, kale salad, or any of those salad recipes.

Alternatively, skip the salad and serve it alongside a easy veggie aspect dish like roasted cauliflower, roasted Brussels sprouts, roasted butternut squash, or lemony inexperienced beans!

And if you happen to love this baked ziti recipe, strive my lasagna, eggplant Parmesan, or sun-dried tomato pasta subsequent!

Baked ziti

Straightforward Baked Ziti



Recipe kind: important dish

  • four cups (32 ounces) marinara sauce
  • 2 cups (16 ounces) ricotta cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon pink pepper flakes
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt, extra for the pasta water
  • Freshly floor black pepper
  • 1 pound ziti pasta
  • Additional-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 1 pound contemporary spinach
  • 1½ cups smoked mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese
  • Chopped contemporary parsley and/or torn basil leaves, for garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Unfold ½ cup marinara within the backside of a 9×13-inch baking dish.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta cheese, garlic, lemon zest, oregano, pink pepper flakes, ½ teaspoon salt, and a number of other grinds of contemporary pepper.
  3. In a big pot of salted boiling water, cook dinner the pasta in response to bundle instructions till al dente. Drain.
  4. Return the pot again to the range. Over low warmth, drizzle the underside of the pot with a little bit olive oil and add the spinach. Toss and sauté 1 to 2 minutes till simply wilted, working in batches if needed. Flip off the warmth, take away the spinach from the pot, and gently squeeze out a number of the extra water. Coarsely chop it and put aside.
  5. Add the pasta again to the pot together with the remaining marinara, many of the chopped spinach, ¼ teaspoon sea salt, and extra contemporary pepper and toss till mixed.
  6. Add half the pasta to the baking dish, prime with dollops of the ricotta, the remaining spinach, and scoop the remaining pasta on prime. High with the mozzarella and pecorino cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and bake till the cheese is browned, 16 to 22 minutes.
  7. Garnish with contemporary basil or parsley and serve scorching.


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