March 19, 2021
The Best Dish to take to a Friend
This Baked Ziti is arguably one of my most popular recipes – and for good reason! It’s one of the recipes that I make for my own family most often and it’s an excellent fit for so many occasions. While I’ve entertained with this dish as it feeds a crowd easily, the times I make it most often are when I’m taking a meal to a friend.
Whether they’ve just had a baby, been sick, or just need a pick-me-up, this Baked Ziti is my go-to. When I take someone a Baked Ziti I usually bake it at home then arrive with it warm and ready to eat (and usually bring a Caesar Salad and Garlic Bread with a pint of ice cream for dessert). Or if I know they won’t be eating it that day, I’ll wrap it tightly and include instructions for freezing on top of the foil with a sharpie. They go something like this:
THAWING INSTRUCTIONS for Baked Ziti
Freeze tightly covered for up to 3 weeks. To cook, pull ziti from the freezer and defrost in your refrigerator overnight. Preheat oven to 375º F then transfer ziti to the oven (still covered with foil) for 25 minutes. Carefully remove foil, increase oven to broil and broil for 5 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. Enjoy!
One last note on this favorite recipe. It’s written as a vegetarian recipe, but about half of the time I make this recipe I’ll add 1 lb. of sweet Italian sausage to satisfy the meat lovers in my life. To make this happen I simply brown the sausage in a large skillet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil until golden brown and crispy. Then I’ll transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to cool. I’ll stir the cooked sausage into the sauce mixture just before combining with the pasta.
Do you have a go-to dish for taking to someone who needs a meal? This is by far my favorite!Print
- Yield: 8-10 servings 1x
This is my go-to meal when a friend is welcoming home a new baby or needs a helping hand with dinner, and feeds a large group so easily! It’s also #meatlessmonday friendly, as the sausage is totally optional.
- 1 pound cottage cheese
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 ½ cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 pound ziti or rigatoni
- 1 (32 oz.) jar marinara sauce – I like Rao’s
- ½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
- cracked black pepper
- ¾ teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 8 ounces mozzarella cheese , cut into ¼-inch pieces
- Cooked Italian sausage, optional – see directions below
Preheat oven to 375°F. Whisk cottage cheese, eggs, and 1 cup Parmesan together in medium bowl; set aside. Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in large pot over high heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and add pasta; cook, stirring occasionally until pasta begins to soften but is not yet cooked through about 7 minutes. Drain pasta and leave in a colander (do not wash the pot).
Add heavy cream to the pot and whisk in cornstarch over medium heat. Bring to simmer and cook until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove pot from heat and add cottage cheese mixture, 1 cup marinara sauce, basil, and ¾ cup mozzarella, then stir to combine. (*if using Italian sausage, add here) Add pasta and stir to coat thoroughly with sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Transfer pasta mixture to 13- by 9-inch baking dish and spread remaining marinara sauce evenly over pasta. Sprinkle remaining ¾ cup mozzarella and remaining ½ cup Parmesan over top. Cover baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 25 minutes.
Remove foil and increase heat to broil. Broil for 5 minutes until golden and bubbly. Cool for 10-15 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil and serve.
*You can easily add 1 lb. of sweet Italian sausage to this recipe. Brown the sausage in a large skillet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil until golden brown and crispy. Then transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to cool. Stir the cooked sausage into the sauce mixture just before combining with the pasta.
- Category: main
- Cuisine: italian
What’s the cook time if I wanted to assemble the night before and bake the next afternoon?
I made this tonight for a friend and her family (and my own family).. it was so delicious! Thank you, Kelsey!
This is so good! I made it initially for a friend while her family was busy with the hospice care of a family member and have added to my dinner rotation several times since then. It’s so easy, delicious, and makes wonderful leftovers!
This baked ziti recipe is delicious and so easy to make. Love the taste and so did my family. Makes a lot to share with my parents.
Loved this recipe! So delicious and easy!
Our 14 month old absolutely loves this recipe (and so do we!) We substituted gluten-free rice noodles and it still came out beautifully.
Your sweet sister brought this to me after surgery and my family of all boys, and lots of them, devoured it. I asked her for the recipe and can’t wait to explore your website.
This is my go to meal for a last minute dinner or a homey meal for company. Easy, delicious, and comforting!
A quick and easy comforting meal that comes together on a weeknight yet is equally great to serve for company. I’ve made it with ziti and rigatoni and both are wonderful. I make this at least once a month. It’s my go-to recipe when I invite friends over but don’t have time to plan something elaborate. Everyone loves it. Serve with a salad, some garlic bread, red wine (if you drink) and you’ve got a complete dinner that won’t stress you out. We all need meals like this in our repertoire!?
huge family fav at my house. always a hit. this is in regular rotation and definitely a favorite of mine to bring to a friend.