Baked Ziti

Baked Ziti

November 11, 2019 0 By

This baked ziti, made with Italian sausage as well as pepperoni and pancetta or bacon along with two types of cheeses and a homemade tomato sauce is rich, indulgent, and comforting in the best possible way.

A white round baking dish filled with baked ziti and topped with melted cheese, and a dish of Parmesan on the side.

Our baked ziti is spectacularly rich and cheesy thanks to a rather indulgent ingredient list and checks off all our prerequisite boxes for comfort food of the most extraordinarily grandmotherly Italian sort.–Angie Zoobkoff

Baked Ziti

  • Quick Glance
  • 1 H
  • 2 H
  • Serves 8


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  • For the tomato sauce

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 onion (8 oz), peeled and finely chopped

  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped

  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped

  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

  • Three (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes

  • Water

  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano

  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar

  • Kosher salt

  • 5 fresh basil leaves
  • For the baked ziti

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 onion (8 oz), peeled and diced

  • 1 bell pepper (5 oz), seeded and thinly sliced

  • 10 ounces pancetta or bacon, finely chopped

  • 12 ounces fresh Italian sausages, casings removed

  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely sliced

  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 pound ziti pasta

  • 7 ounces pepperoni, salami, mortadella, ham, or other cured meat, sliced

  • 3 cups tomato sauce (see preceding recipe)

  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese


  • Make the tomato sauce
  • 1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onion, celery, and carrot and cook, stirring often, until softened, 7 to 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
  • 2. Pour in the tomatoes. Add a generous tablespoon of water to each tomato can, swish it around to loosen any tomato residue, and pour it into the saucepan.
  • 3. Stir in the oregano, sugar, and a good pinch of salt. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • 4. Add the basil and taste it. Add more salt, if desired. Simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
  • 5. Using an immersion blender, purée the sauce to a smooth consistency. (Alternatively, you can let the sauce cool for at least 10 minutes, carefully transfer the sauce to a food processor or blender, and blitz until smooth).
  • 6. The sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for a week or frozen for up to 6 months.
  • Assemble the baked ziti
  • 7. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
  • 8. In a 12-inch (30-cm) skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 8 minutes.
  • 9. Add the pancetta or bacon and the sausage. Cook, breaking the sausage meat up with the back of a spoon, until browned, 6 to 14 minutes.
  • 10. Sprinkle in the garlic and oregano, a good pinch of salt, and a grinding of black pepper and stir to combine. Cook until garlic is fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes.
  • 11. Cook the ziti in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and return to the empty pot.
  • 12. Add everything in the skillet to the cooked pasta along with the cured meat, tomato sauce, and half the cheeses. Stir well to combine.
  • 13. Dump the ziti mixture into a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-cm) baking dish. Scatter the remaining cheeses over the top.
  • 14. Bake until the cheese is bubbling and golden, about 30 minutes. Let cool slightly before scooping and serving it straight from the baking dish.


Baked Ziti Recipe © 2019 Liliana Battle. Photo © 2019 Stacey Tyzzer. All rights reserved. All materials used with permission.

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