Sunday, May 1, 2016

Baked Ziti

This whole blogging without pictures thing is pretty stressful. I know I am forgetting some recipes!  But I guess the good news is that this is one I knew I wouldn't forget, because it was amazing.

Here's the crazy part: I hate ziti bakes.  Always have.  A bunch of ground beef ruining perfectly good ziti, and too much cheese, or not enough cheese... it was always one of my least favorite meals.  But then we had a pot luck lunch at school, and someone made a ziti bake and shockingly labeled it "vegetarian."  Since vegetarian options at pot lucks are not always ubiquitous, I tried some.  After one bite, I was trying to figure out who made it, because it was great.  After two bites, I threw my fork down in horror because I was positive I had ground beef in my mouth.  After frantically tracking down the teacher who made it, he sheepishly admitted he used soy crumbles because his wife is a vegetarian.  It was fake ground beef!  And the whole thing was delicious.  I stole the recipe from him and tried it out on my own.

Now, you probably think you know all there is to know about baked ziti.  I certainly did.  Ricotta cheese, right?  Wrong.  This one has sour cream instead.  Somehow when it bakes it ends up looking just like ricotta, so no one knows the difference, but it brings that extra tang to the dish.  Then lots of mozzarella cheese, right?  Wrong.  How about slices of provolone?  Don't worry, there is still some mozzarella (and Parmesan) on top.  It's just not your mama's ziti bake.  It's ziti bake for the 21st century.

If you are not interested in fake ground beef, feel free to use the real deal. Just don't invite me over for dinner.  But those of you who want to eat something that didn't get murdered, I have been trying out lots of different brands to see what I think.  So far I have tried Gardein and Beyond Meat.  They were both good.  Vegetarians, what plant-based meats do you prefer?  For me, I don't actually miss the flavor or texture of meat, so I really could do without it, but it makes me family happy.  You know it's very realistic fake meat when Nick is bringing leftovers to the police station for dinner.  Definitely a good compromise between meat and no meat!

Anyway, just make this baked ziti, even if you think you hate baked ziti.  It makes a giant casserole, it reheats great, and everyone loves it.  It's definitely going into regular rotation here - it was even requested this weekend!


baked ziti
from AllRecipes (and Mr. O.!)
makes 10 servings

1 pound ziti
1 onion, chopped
1 pound lean ground beef (or your choice of fake meat!)
2 26-ounce jars spaghetti sauce
6 ounces provolone cheese, sliced
1 1/2 cups sour crea,
6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese


1) Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil.  Add ziti, and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain.

2) In a large skillet, brown onion and ground beef over medium heat.  Add spaghetti sauce and simmer for 15 minutes.

3) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a 9x13-inch baking dish.  Layer as follows: 1/2 of the ziti, all the provolone, all the sour cream, 1/2 of the sauce mixture, remaining ziti, all the mozzarella, and the remaining sauce mixture.  Top with grated Parmesan.

4) Bake for 30 minutes or until cheeses are melted.

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