Ziti al Forno-Baked Ziti with Meat Sauce

Ziti al Forno-Baked Ziti with Meat Sauce is a favorite recipe for the holidays or even just for an Italian Sunday with family. The pasta al forno casserole is baked until it’s a cheesy and bubbly perfection. The ultimate Italian comfort food dish!

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prep Time

15 min



For the Meat Sauce: – 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil – ¼ cup of onion chopped you can use sweet onion or yellow onion – 2 stalks celery diced – 2 carrot diced – 2 cloves garlic minced – 1 ½ pounds lean ground beef you could do a mixture of pork/beef or however you prefer – 1 cup dry white wine – 2-28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes I use San Marzano – 6 fresh basil leaves – 2 ½ teaspoons sea salt – ¼ teaspoon black pepper – For the Ricotta Layer: – 2 pounds ricotta cheese – 2 eggs – 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese – ½ cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmegiano-Reggiano cheese – 1 Tablespoon finely minced Italian parsley leaves – Sea salt and ground black pepper – For the Pasta: – 16 ounces ziti penne rigate or mostaciolli pasta – ½ cup grated Pecorino-Romano or Parmegiano Reggiano divided – 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese divided – fresh basil leaves

The recipe begins with a really nice ragu’ (aka, Bolognese or meat sauce). I usually have a container of homemade ragu’ in the fridge. Yes, I’m that kind of an Italian mom. It’s the perfect sauce to enjoy when you’re not quite sure what to make for dinner (or as it happens in our house, lunch). The next part of the recipe is pre-cooking the pasta. And then once you have your ricotta mixture and cheese lined up with the sauce, you begin the layering. I like to use fresh basil (I still have some thriving in my little herb garden).

Can I make this ziti al forno with meat sauce gluten-free? Yes, you sure can make this gluten-free! You have to sub out the ziti for your favorite gluten-free short pasta. That is all you need to do to make this totally gluten-free. Can I make ziti al forno dairy-free? Yes, you can! Simply sub the ricotta, parm, and mozzarella for your favorite dairy-free cheeses.


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