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This baked ziti recipe is a quick and easy casserole you can put together last minute and the whole family will love it! It’s a no-fail crowd pleaser regardless of who I’m serving.
It’s a very versatile dish. Add veggies, different meats, and even change up the spices if you like. You can, of course, also use other cheese as well. I’ve made this with mozzarella several times and it’s delicious. But I try not to get carried away with the cheese as often as I’d like, so I stick with the parmesan the majority of the time. Either way, it’s pretty darn tasty and doesn’t take too long to assemble either!
What Is Ziti?
Ziti is an actual shape of pasta. It’s similar to penne but has straight edges instead of the edges being cut at an angle.
What Is Baked Ziti?
In case you’re wondering, baked ziti is a casserole dish (like this one! Ta-da!!!) using ziti pasta. It is a version of pasta al forno. (In a pinch, you can also use penne pasta.)
What Does Baked Ziti Taste Like?
Baked ziti is somewhat similar in flavor to a simple lasagna. It’s far more budget-friendly than lasagna and uses far fewer ingredients. It’s the same idea as lasagna in many ways but is a much easier, time-sparing dish to make. Think of it as the “poor man’s lasagna”. You can bake it in just about any type of oven-safe dish. Try different cheeses, veggies, and meats, as mentioned above. Basically, you can purchase what’s on sale and use it to put this together.
Traditional baked ziti is very heavy on cheese. If you google it, you’ll find plenty of photos showing ooey-gooey, cheesy potions of pasta. But I don’t like to go hog-wild on the fat content of my recipes, so I cut back by using parmesan. While there will obviously be a difference between using parmesan instead of something like mozzarella or jack cheese, I find it to be just as tasty and far more friendly to my hips.
Easy Baked Ziti Recipe
This recipe cooks up fast and easy! All you have to do is mix the tomato sauce and spices in one bowl, while you cook the pasta in a pot and saute the meat in a skillet. Put them all together, top with cheese, and bake! You can even make a salad to go with it while it bakes in the oven. This dish comes together in minutes!
Meatless Baked Ziti
If you prefer a meatless version of this recipe, simply omit the meat! Cook your pasta, mix your spices and tomato sauce together, and then toss your pasta into the sauce, mixing well. Pour into a casserole dish and top with cheese, then bake to perfection!
More Healthy Pasta Recipes
- Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Mushrooms & Sun Dried Tomatoes
- Macaroni & Cheese
- Chili Mac
- Rustic Italian Pasta Salad
- Olive Pasta
- Garlic Asparagus Penne Pasta
- Summer Vegetable Bow Tie Pasta
- Cheese Burger Pasta
Baked Ziti Recipe Card
Baked Italian Ziti
- 1 lb. whole wheat penne pasta (cooked to package directions)
- 1½ lb. ground turkey
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tbsp. dried basil
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tbsp. garlic powder
- 1 tbsp. onion powder
- 1 tsp. honey
- 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
- ½ cup water
- 15 oz. can tomato sauce (low sodium, no sugar)
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 cup grape tomatoes (cherry tomatoes work too – chopped)
- Set pasta to cook to package directions.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the basil, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, honey, vinegar, water and tomato sauce.
- In a large skillet, cook the turkey meat in the olive oil. Add salt during cooking.
- Add the cooked pasta and the cooked meat to the bowl of tomato sauce and mix well.
- Transfer to a baking dish and top with chopped, grape tomatoes.
- Sprinkle your cheese over the whole thing.
- Bake at 350 F. for about 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
This recipe from the Gracious Pantry archives, originally posted 10/12/12.