One classic Italian-American cuisine no one, not even you can resist trying out is the San Giorgio baked ziti. Full of health benefits, loaded with awesome creaminess and yummy as it can be, it is a sure try-out. Do you like lasagna but not the fuss associated with it? Then make baked ziti instead.
It’s a lot like a classic lasagna casserole but easier to make and without layers of broken noodles. This doesn’t mean that lasagna is not an amazing meal, it is. Thanks to Garfield, my love for lasagna keeps growing. Enough lasagna, let’s talk ziti, baked ziti!!! How do we do that? With our San Giorgio baked ziti recipe. Keep calm, it will come.
San Giorgio baked ziti is a multiple comfort food as it brings back warm memories from years ago when it was a staple food at family gatherings and school functions. That’s not all, physical comfort is not left out as the taste of this hot oozing mixture of sauce and cheese will soothe you especially on a cold day. Yes, hot does it, it’s best served hot. The praises you’re going to receive from your family and friends for making this is not left out also.
Baked ziti, also known as oven baked pasta is a casserole dish that surfaces as a comfort food. It is ziti pasta baked with sausage, all sort of cheese and seasoned tomato sauce. A standby for generations in Italian-American restaurants, it is one of those classic Italian pastas we just can’t resist ordering whenever we see it.
Baked ziti can be made using San Giorgio pasta , sausages or meat, seasoned tomato sauce or leftover spaghetti sauce from a previous kitchen voyage, herbs to make your food spicy like basil, rosemary, sage, thyme or parsley and of course lots of yummy cheeses to get that taste you so much desire in this Italian-American dish.
This dish alongside other pasta dishes has a very long history that dates back to the late Middle Ages and Renaissance where they were served at banquets and at the palace of nobles. Eventually, baked pasta was adopted all over Italy. But much of their cuisine is based on regional foods and traditions.
It is widely known that Italy is home to many pasta dishes as they are made on Sundays, holidays, birthdays and other special occasions. And that’s one more reason it’s one of my favorite places on Earth.
Southern Italy is home to baked pasta dishes loaded with veggies like eggplants and peppers as well as meats cured in the region (like sopressata and sausages). While Northern Italy dishes are made up of ingredients like butter, pork fat, heavy starches and meaty ragus.
Now, oven baked pasta (baked ziti) is a staple dish in many southern Italian towns. They fondly call it the name ‘piatto unico’ that is, one serving with a dose of carbohydrate, protein, veggies and dairy. Piatto unico, if you don’t fall in love with this dish which I doubt is possible, at least fall in love with its southern Italian name.
I love the way the name sounds. Piatto unico. Winks.
Baked ziti called al forno (another fine name, loving the dish already?) is one of the many Italian cuisines that really have no rules. This meal is basically more of a method with variation in ingredients. Baked ziti is the result of an extremely creative cook or perhaps just the nagging feeling to use up some leftovers.
San Giorgio baked ziti holds no bars as a lot of what goes into it depends on what is found in the refrigerator or pantry, it’s time to clean out the fridge with this meal. It is a perfect midweek or weekend meal or one that can be taken along to a potluck dinner.
Family and friends alike cannot and will not be able to resist a serving of this. So, this meal can be made in huge quantities and stored in the refrigerator for later so make 2 casseroles and freeze one for another day.
There are lots of tricks to the preparation of this meal with individuals tweaking it to their taste. Some vary the meat or decide to make it meatless baked ziti; others vary the cheeses or the sauce. Others simply omit the tomato sauce to have a truly cheese-tactic casserole.
Imagine the taste!
All you need to make this baked ziti dish even so much spectacular as a meal is some spicy garlic bread and a simple tossed salad.
How to make baked ziti from San Giorgio pasta
San Giorgio is one of so many brands that produce pasta of different shapes and sizes and ziti is one of those shapes made by San Giorgio. It is a small hollow cut pasta that makes a good part of this casserole. Baked ziti ingredients are principally made up of San Giorgio pasta. This baked ziti recipe will serve 8 persons. No stress, it is really quite easy to make.
- 1 package (16 oz.) San Giorgio Ziti, uncooked.
- Olive oil.
- 1 jar (about 24 oz.) of spaghetti sauce/tomato sauce, divided.
- 1¾ cups (15 oz.) of ricotta cheese.
- 3 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese.
- 2 cups (8 oz.) of mozzarella cheese, shredded.
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley or 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes.
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves.
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder (or small clove garlic, minced).
- ½ teaspoon of salt or salt to taste.
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper.
- 1 large onion, chopped.
- 1 pound bulk Italian sausage or ground beef or pork (if making baked ziti with meat).
For a meatless baked ziti, substitute the meat with one egg, slightly beaten.
- Heat a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the ziti and cook at a rolling boil, with the pot uncovered until the ziti is al dente, that is, till it is edible but still firm to the bit. After cooking the ziti, drain through a colander. You can add a few drops of olive oil so the pasta doesn’t stick together while you’re making the sauce. A few persons do add the few drops of olive oil while boiling the ziti.
- While the water is still boiling, you can start preparing the sauce. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a sauté pan (moderately large) on medium-high heat. When the oil is simmering, add the ground beef or bulk sausage. Break down any large chunk of sausage as it cooks. Wait till it browns well, don’t let it get burnt. Avoid stirring often to ensure it browns. Sprinkle with a little salt if you are using ground beef or pork instead of sausages.
- When the meat is mostly brown, you add the onions, stirring to combine. Sauté everything until the onions becomes translucent and beginning to brown. This will take about 4-5 minutes.
- Add the garlic, parsley, oregano leaves and the ground pepper and stir to combine. Cook for a minute and add the spaghetti sauce or tomato sauce and stir well. Bring to a simmer.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
- In a 13*9 inch baking dish, spread in a thin layer of tomato or spaghetti sauce. Then, dot the surface with half of the ricotta cheese. Add a spoonful of sauce to the ziti pasta and mix thoroughly and then add the pasta into the casserole. Pour the rest of the sauce on top of the ziti pasta, spread out the remaining ricotta cheese over the pasta and sprinkle on top both the mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Cover with foil.
- Bake in oven for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly. The top should be lightly brown with the cheese melted.
- Give your baked ziti a chance to rest. With about 10 minutes for it to settle. Then you can dig in. You can serve with garlic bread.
Note: Creativity and risk begat fun results and this comes to play when making baked ziti. Be creative, don’t restrict yourself to the recipe given above. You can add one or two veggies to the mix, extra cheese and a tinge of one or two herbs to your casserole to make a super tantalizing and exciting dish. Just imagine and do. And don’t forget the egg, if you want a meatless ziti.
Tips To Help You Perfect Your Ziti
- To avoid mushy pasta, ensure you do not overcook the pasta before baking. The al dente texture is best preferred as the liquid in the baking dish will continue the pasta-cooking process while baking.
- Short cut pasta with hollows like ziti makes for the right cut for your baked pasta. If you have to alternate, you can use rigatoni or penne, all San Giorgio’s. These are perfect for holding unto the sauce and other ingredients.
- If you do not have any of the herbs like oregano leaves, parsley or dried basil, but you happen to have Italian seasoning in your pantry, what are you waiting for? Using a tablespoon will give you the desired outcome you envision.
- If you’re making the meal from the scratch and you have no spaghetti or tomato sauce, then no troubles, you can alternatively make use of marinara sauce. The same quantity as is in the recipe will do the job.
- And finally for a meatless baked ziti, replace the second and third steps with what I’ll give you now. After preparing your pasta, stir together the hot cooked pasta, tomato or spaghetti sauce, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, parsley, egg, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper.
In the baking dish, spoon in the pasta mixture and top up with the sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and cover with foil.
Make-ahead directions: This is one recipe that can be prepared ahead of time especially for that outing you have or that family treat you are to prepare for. To do so, prepare recipe as directed but do not bake. Then cover with plastic and wrap with foil. You can refrigerate for up to 24 hours till you’re ready to eat or better still, you can freeze for up to 2 months. Yeah, you can but I wonder what it will be doing there in your fridge for 2 whole months. Come on!!!
When ready, just thaw the frozen version in the refrigerator overnight. Remove plastic and replace foil. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking or you can bake as directed adding about 10 minutes to the baking time.
Is baked ziti fattening?
Now, if you just asked this question, sorry but I’m not going to tell you ‘yes it is’ or ‘no, it’s not’. We all know baked ziti is a staple comfort food so with loads of full fat ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses you’re going to add when making it; you’ll surely come up with a rack up of calories and saturated fat from just a serving. Yes, sincerely.
So, it all depends on how you prepare it and since we’ve seen the recipe given above, it all depends on how much you eat. So take extra care not to lose yourself in this delightful comfort food. Lean or extra lean ground beef will make for a healthier version. Mushrooms are a great add-on for meatless baked ziti.
Since one cup of plain cooked pasta has about 180 to 200 calories, baked ziti calories will surely depend on the recipe. You will get around 300 calories from baked ziti recipe.
You sure have been able to gather up enough food-courage to make this delicious creamy baked goodness. Do not always rely on going to the restaurant to get this feel, put your fingers to work. I hope this San Giorgio baked ziti recipe has been helpful and your meal comes out wonderful!