Quick Fix: Baked Ziti For A Crowd

Today I would like to be a naughty Italian-American... and by that I mean that I am not only going to use store bought pasta, but I am also going to use store bought sauce (GASP!) What's worse? We aren't going to spend any time feeling bad about it! Sometimes life gets busy and when that happens, Italian-Americans buy canned sauce. (but please, don't tell my grandma!)

Seriously though, three ingredients and you have dinner for a crowd. We're talking under $10 people. This is good for a last minute gig, or a busy day. You can also make it ahead, which is awesome because everyone loves something they can make ahead. I do want to say, though, that if you are going to make this, please have an actual crowd to feed.

I made the mistake of making this and then realized that I had not invited anyone to dinner. I made a few phone calls but could only manage to bribe my sister in law into coming... the result? A huge casserole dish in my fridge of pasta. It did not go uneaten. It was consumed nearly entirely by me in a time span so short I am embarrassed to even admit it.

Hi, my name is Billie and I am addicted to pasta. It's gonna be a long road because even though I know admitting it is the first step, I have no intention of recovery. Deal with it.

Today, your life is easy because you, my friend, are cooking with three ingredients. Simplicity: it's a beautiful thing. 

Cook your pasta according to manufacturer's directions. 

And drain. 

Then, return your pasta to the pot (of course, you have turned off the heat) and add about 2/3 of the can of sauce. 

Stir it up... little darrrrrlin'...stir it up. 

Put some reggae on your iPod... proceed with cooking. 

Put your purdy pasta in a casserole dish. Your big one. 

Getcha ricotta ready! 
I used whole milk ricotta. I mean, if you are going to go ricotta, why not use the whole milk variety? I find the reduced fat versions to be watery. And I swear to you, if you use cottage cheese in place of ricotta, the ricotta gods are going to smite you. Your guests might be polite as you tell them how much "like" ricotta it tastes, but they are only humoring you while they plot their revenge. Seriously. 

Distribute in even dollops. 

Now the fun part! 
Press it down with your spoon, like so, so that the ricotta isn't just floating atop a sea of pasta. Cause that would be silly!!! 

It should look something like this... 

Pour on the rest of your sauce, you saucy fool you! 

Wow! So easy. 

Cover it with foil and wait until you are ready to eat. 

Then you just pop it in the oven on 350 for 30 minutes and: 

TA DA! Dinner. Ah, that feels good, don't it?! 

Baked Ziti For a Crowd 

Time: 20 minutes (plus 30 minutes bake time) | Serves 6 | Difficulty: Easy 

You Will Need:

1 pound box of ziti 
1 26-ounce can of pasta sauce 
15 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese 

1 large casserole dish 


Cook pasta according to manufacturer's directions; when the pasta is done, turn off the heat, drain the pasta, and return it to the pot. 

Pour 3/4 of the pasta sauce onto the pasta and stir to combine. 

Pour the pasta/sauce into the casserole dish. 

Using a tablespoon, distribute ricotta cheese in dollops evenly (see picture). Using the tablespoon, push the ricotta dollops down into the pasta so that they aren't sitting in the pasta, but rather, nestled in it's pasta arms. 

Pour over your remaining sauce evenly. 

At this point, you can cover it with tinfoil until you are ready to cook it, up to one day ahead (such a time saver!) 
If you are ready to cook, place it in an oven preheated to 350 degrees, and bake for 30 minutes. 

Serve to a hungry crowd! 

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