As a busy mom, you might not always be able to make dinner exactly when your kids want it. They might be hungry at five, but you’re at work or out running errands and won’t be home for a while. Or, maybe you had a hard day at work and just don’t feel like putting in the effort for making dinner tonight.
For those that have not had baked ziti, think of it as lasagna’s cool, relaxed, younger brother. It’s easier to make, and faster.
Okay, so this is technically baked penne, not ziti.
But, sometimes you might not have ziti in your house. Or you might not be able to find it at your local grocery store. When we lived in rural Wisconsin the pasta choices were limited and ziti required a bit of a further trek to find than our small store. Honestly though, penne tastes just as yummy and you won’t even be able to tell the difference.
What’s nice about this recipe, and other recipes like it, is that you can make it hours before it’s time to eat, when you feel like cooking. And later when you’re drained and want nothing less than to cook, you can throw your previously made creation in the oven and put your feet up.
Another perk: this ziti will make your house smell delicious and get your family heading to the kitchen to check out what you are making.
Though this recipe doesn’t call for meat or veggies as we wanted to keep it as basic as possible, you can definitely add some if you please! Hamburger, Italian sausage, and veggies, like onions or mushrooms, would add to this dish.
You can pre-make this simply by putting it together, wrapping the top with wrap, and setting it in the fridge until you are ready to bake. Add about 15 minutes to the baking time to account for it being put into the oven cold.
Undercook your noodles. They will cook a little bit while they’re in the oven, so leave them a little bit undercooked when you put them into the pan.
Use lots of cheese. The cheese should be the star of your dish, so make sure you use a good brand. (We use Crystal Farms!)
Put it in the broiler for a few minutes. You definitely don’t need to this if you don’t feel like it or don’t have the time (we didn’t!), but if you want to achieve the crispy, golden brown topping this is the best way to do it.
Get your family involved and try making your own penne for this. Homemade pasta is one of our favorite family meals and activities. It feels like a grown-up play-doh machine.
Baked Ziti or Penne
- 11 oz cottage cheese
- 3 eggs beaten
- 3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 pound penne or ziti, cooked
- 1 jar pasta sauce
- 2 cups Crystal Farms mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 350degrees.
- In 8 or 9 in pan layer 1/3 of the prepared pasta on the bottom of the pan.
- Cover the pasta with 1/3 of the pasta sauce.
- Dollup 1/3 of the cottage cheese mixture on top of the sauce. Spread around a bit with the back of a spoon.
- Top with 1/3 of the Crystal Farms mozzarella cheese.
- Repeat layers twice more.
- Bake for 45 minutes.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Crystal Farms® Cheese. The opinions and text are all mine.