wine night: baked ziti with homemade meat sauce

 As if we haven't all eaten enough over the past week, I thought it'd be a lovely time to share one of the first recipes I ever created all by myself.  A little nostalgia for your Wine Night if you will.  

I brainstormed up this little guy the very first week we moved to New York.  Al was OBSESSED with The Sopranos at the time (and still is). I overheard one of the shows where Carmella was making Tony ziti.  I decided to try my hand at it for Al. 

In our tiny Morningside Heights apartment, I cooked up this homemade meat sauce, learned that more ricotta is always a good thing, and surprised the heck out of Al.  I still get all sappy whenever I have meat sauce simmering on the stove.

I make this quite often for new parents or housewarming gifts.  It freezes well or you can take it assembled, but not baked and write heating instructions on top to let them decide when to eat the goodness.  

Since it takes quite awhile with the homemade meat sauce component (you could totally used jarred sauce but that is way less impressive and fun)try making this on a Sunday and then popping into the oven on a week night for an easy Wine Night!

Baked Ziti with Homemade Meat Sauce
Recipe by Katie Rose of The Rose Record (that's me!)
Serves:  10

  • 1 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed (or you could us any ground meat)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 14 oz. crushed tomatoes (FreshDirect only sells the 28 oz. size can.  I just use half)
  • 14.5 oz. diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 6 oz. tomato paste (one small can)
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoons dried parsley (rub it between your hands when adding to the pot to release the flavor)
  • 1 teaspoons dried basil (again, rub it between you hands when adding to the pot)
  • 1 teaspoons dried oregano, divided
  • 1 pound (16 oz) dried ziti or rigatoni pasta
  • 15 oz. part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4  cup grated reduced fat Parmesan, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

  1. In a large sauce pan (I used my dutch oven, duh), cook the sausage until brown.  Drain and set aside on a paper towel-lined plate.
  2. Back in your dutch oven, add onion and garlic over medium heat.  If you don't have enough fat from the sausage left in the pan, add a little olive oil.  Cook a few minutes until softened,a bout 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, water, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, bails, and half of the oregano. Add the meat back to the pot. Stir to combine.
  4. Cover and simmer for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.  (You could make this ahead of time and refrigerate and use it on any pasta.  Just heat it up a bit before making your ziti).
  5. During the last half hour of meat simmering time, cook the pasta to al dente.  
  6. In a small mixing bowl, combine ricotta, 1 C. mozzarella, 2 T. Parmesan, egg, and salt and pepper.  Stir to combine.
  7. Spray a 13" by 9" baking dish with cooking spray.  Layer in some of the meat sauce, just enough to lightly cover the bottom of the pan.  Next add a layer of pasta, then another layer of sauce, and then a layer of the ricotta mixture.  Add in another layer of pasta, sauce, and ricotta mixture.  Top with remaining sauce.  Sprinkle with remaining mozzarellaParmesan, and oregano.  
  8. Cover and bake at 350 F for 1 hour or until heated through.  (Or cover and refrigerate or freeze.  Before cooking frozen ziti, allow time for it to thaw and come to room temperature).  
  9. If the top isn't as brown and bubbly as you'd like, remove the cover and pop it under the broiler for a few minutes.  

  • Servings:  10
  • Calories:  470
  • Carbs:  51 g
  • Fat:  19 g
  • Protein:  6 g

It's a labor of love but it is so worth it.  Trust me. 
Happy Wine night!


{photos and snazzy gif by me}
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