Baked Ziti with Pesto

Chewy and flavorful–this recipe, from presentation to final bite, disappoints no one. Click here for the pesto recipe.

Add 3-5 chopped Italian sausage to take this side pasta dish to a main entree. Adding pine nuts, basil, and fresh mozzarella pearls makes a chewy texture and a real comfort food to serve.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ziti pasta (mostaccioli or other pasta can substitute)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 C canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree
  • ¼ t salt
  • ½ t freshly ground pepper
  • 1 ½  C ricotta cheese
  • 3 C mozzarella cheese OR 2 C shredded and 1 ball of fresh mozza pearls
  • ½ – 1 C pesto
  • ½ C Parmesan cheese

Preparation

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Oil an 8X8 oven dish.

Cook the ziti for 7 minutes (partially cooked). Drain.

In a medium saucepan, heat 1 ½ T of the oil and cook the onion and garlic until softened. Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes or while the pasta cooks.

In a small bowl, blend the ricotta, 2 C shredded mozzarella, pesto, and ¼ C parmesan cheese. Add pepper to taste.

Put half the ziti in the baking dish and top with the tomato sauce. Spread the cheese/pesto mixture on top of the layer. Add another layer of pasta, sauce and then the remaining mozzarella (pearls or shredded) and ¼ C parmesan.

Bake for 30 minutes, remove and set 10 minutes before serving.


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