Ziti is a type of medium sized tubular pasta. Baked ziti, as the name suggests, is a baked dish featuring ziti and other ingredients. Meat and chunky sauces are most preferred with this type of pasta.
Considered an Italian-American hybrid, the pasta is cooked, then combined with ingredients and sauce in a casserole dish. It is then placed in an oven and allowed to bake for a period of time. It is possible to find a variety of recipes for this dish, featuring different types of ingredients.
It is not unusual for a baked ziti recipe to call for the inclusion of different types of meats and vegetables. Ground beef, sirloin tips, and sausages may be used singly or in combination in a recipe. Vegetables such as mushrooms, onions, and various types of peppers are also popular ingredients with many ziti lovers. As with many casserole recipes, it is possible to include just about any type of meat or vegetable in the dish.
One of the advantages of baked ziti is that most recipes take very little time to prepare but can yield a large amount. This can be especially important when cooking for a large group with very little time available. Ziti also tends to keep very well, making it possible to prepare the dish the day before, store in a refrigerator, then heat up the following day if necessary.
Just about every recipe for baked ziti calls for cooking the pasta before combining with the other ingredients. However, since the ziti is placed into the oven to bake, it is normally recommended that the pasta only be cooked until softened, and certainly no more than al dente. This helps to ensure that the baked pasta retains some texture when the recipe is fully prepared.
A simple and quick recipe for baked ziti requires no more than a few ingredients. Dry penne pasta, an onion, ground beef, sour cream and canned spaghetti sauce can be combined to create a tasty ziti dish in no more than forty-five minutes.
While boiling the pasta, the ground beef is placed into a skillet to brown. Once the meat and pasta are cooking, the onion is coarsely chopped. In order to cook the onions slightly, the pieces can be added to the ground beef as it finishes the browning process. After draining the meat and onions, stir in the spaghetti sauce and allow the mixture to simmer for a few moments.
Once the pasta is ready, drain off the water and place the pasta into a casserole dish. Spread sour cream on top of the pasta, then add the meat, onions and sauce. For the final layer, grate cheese and sprinkle on top. Bake the combined ingredients for roughly thirty minutes or until the cheese is melted and slightly browned.
Baked ziti makes an ideal casual entrée that can easily be paired with a tossed green salad to make a fun meal. Relatively inexpensive, tasty, and easy to prepare, this Americanized version of Italian food is sure to please just about everyone.