Cheesy Baked Ziti is a wonderful vegetarian dish and a perfect combination of layered pasta, three types of cheese and plenty of fresh basil. There's an easy way to make a fresh pasta red sauce here too. This made from scratch yummy main meal will inspire you to grab a big pasta bowl, scoop up and dig in.
Ingredients to have on hand
- Ziti pasta
- Ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan cheese
- Canned, crushed tomatoes
- Italian seasoning
- Fresh basil
- Fresh garlic and onion
No Meat in This Recipe
This Cheesy Baked Ziti has no meat and is the ideal recipe to serve your vegetarian friends and family. The red sauce, the cheese sauce - everything is meat-free. But make no mistake, this hearty pasta dish is full of delicious cheeses and the red sauce is brimming with seasoning and garlic so there's no skimping on flavor.
San Marzano Tomatoes
I highly recommend using the San Marzano variety of canned tomatoes for this recipe. That's an heirloom type tomato and similar to Roma tomatoes, which are my favorite to make pasta sauces and soups. The San Marzanos have a slightly sweeter taste, which is why I love them in this recipe. I use this canned variety, but there are lots of great options for crushed tomatoes in the canned tomato aisle. Be sure to use crushed, not diced tomatoes.
Plenty of Red Sauce
This pasta recipe calls for three 28 ounce cans of tomato sauce, which means there will be plenty of sauce leftover after you're assembled the ziti in the dish. Keep the extra pasta red sauce warm on the stove and serve it with the baked ziti. Spoon the extra sauce on top of each serving, it's delicious this way and is especially good on baked ziti leftovers.
Ricotta cheese has a distinctively creamy texture but as a general rule, small-curd cottage cheese is an excellent substitute for ricotta. The flavor is similiar, but keep in mind, even with a small-curd cottage cheese, the texture is different than ricotta. I've used cottage cheese in place of ricotta many times and it's yummy. I've heard some folks use goat cheese, cream cheese and even sour cream as a substitute for ricotta so there are plenty of options.
Other Pasta Recipes
Cheesy Baked Ziti will likely remind you of dinner at your favorite Italian restaurant, and if you are in the mood for other pasta options I've got a few ideas for you! Make Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese and wow your crowd with a classic comfort food. Or how about an option for the meat-lover in the family? My Homemade Meatballs are the perfect addition to a big plate of spaghetti, and this Tomato-Sauce and Fresh Pesto are delicious on any type of pasta. Enjoy!