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Easy Baked Ziti

Baked ziti is a dish that has a special place in both Jack’s heart and mine. Growing up, I ate it at all sorts of gatherings – graduation parties, holidays, and more – and Jack’s mom makes it every year on Christmas Eve. With the holidays right around the corner, I thought now would be the perfect time to share my baked ziti recipe.

Easy to make and perfect for serving a crowd, it’s the recipe I turn to whenever we’re hosting family or friends, one we’ve made and loved time and time again. Whether you serve it at a holiday feast or on a regular weeknight, I hope you enjoy it too.

Nutrition Facts

  • Servings 6
  • Amount per serving
  • Calories 1138
  • Total Fat 60.9g
  • Saturated Fat 33.6g
  • Cholesterol 243mg
  • Sodium 2637mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 80g
  • Dietary Fiber 6.2g
  • Total Sugars 23g
  • Protein 72g
  • Vitamin D 0mcg
  • Calcium 1583mg
  • Iron 6mg
  • Potassium 1200mg

Recipe Allergies

Instructions

  • 1.Preheat the oven to 425°F. Spread ½ cup marinara in the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish.
  • 2.In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, garlic, lemon zest, oregano, red pepper flakes, ½ teaspoon salt, and several grinds of fresh pepper.
  • 3.In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain.
  • 4.Return the pot back to the stove. Over low heat, drizzle the bottom of the pot with a little olive oil and add the spinach. Toss and sauté 1 to 2 minutes until just wilted, working in batches if necessary. Turn off the heat, remove the spinach from the pot, and gently squeeze out some of the excess water. Coarsely chop it and set aside.
  • 5.Add the pasta back to the pot along with the remaining marinara, most of the chopped spinach, ¼ teaspoon sea salt, and more fresh pepper and toss until combined.
  • 6.Add half the pasta to the baking dish, top with dollops of the ricotta, the remaining spinach, and scoop the remaining pasta on top. Top with the mozzarella and pecorino cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and bake until the cheese is browned, 16 to 22 minutes.
  • 7.Garnish with fresh basil or parsley and serve hot.

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Ingredients

  • 4 cups (32 ounces) marinara sauce
  • 2 cups (16 ounces) ricotta cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt, more for the pasta water
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ziti pasta
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 1 pound fresh spinach
  • 1½ cups smoked mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese
  • Chopped fresh parsley and/or torn basil leaves, for garnish