Daily Archives: April 22, 2013

Meaty Baked Ziti

Meaty Baked Ziti via ABalancedLifeCooks.com

Meat sauce + pasta + mozzarella = delicioso

Oh how I desperately wish I had better photography skills….and more sunlight in our apartment…and the ability to cook in the middle of the day so I could take photos in the daylight so you could more accurately see just how insanely delicious this meal was. Heck, I  wish you could come over for dinner and have a bite. We still have leftovers!

If the photo doesn’t do the meal justice (it doesn’t) I’m sure the recipe will: My favorite meat sauce recipe, plus almost fully cooked ziti, plus freshly shredded, soon to be gooey mozzarella cheese. Pour it into a casserole dish and cook at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Boom.


True story: I cooked with cheese. I ate cheese. I liked cheese. Please don’t go spreading this around, it’ll tarnish my cheese-hating reputation.

Let’s move on.

I was so proud of my accomplishment that, upon tasting it, I declared to Robert  he should make me his wife. Good thing I happen to have a few other attributes going for me besides the occasional culinary success. Sometimes humility isn’t one of them.

This is what my Saturday night looked like!

Meaty baked ziti + arugula salad + fava beans 

Meaty Baked Ziti

Serves: 6


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound lean ground beef

1 large onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp dried basil, crumbled

1 tsp dried oregano, crumbled

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp crushed red chili peppers

1 (28 oz) can  plum tomatoes, drained, chopped

1 (15 oz)  can tomato sauce

1/2 cup  red wine

1 pound ziti

2 cups shredded part-skin mozzarella cheese (I recommend buying a ball of fresh mozzarella and shredding it yourself)


Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add ground beef and cook until brown. Tansfer beef to plate. Add onion and garlic to skillet and sauté until onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in  basil, oregano, paprika, and red chili peppers and continue cooking 1 minute. Return beef to skillet; add tomatoes, tomato sauce ,and wine. Simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400.

While sauce cooks, cook the pasta just shy of the recommended cooking time (about 7 minutes if the box says 9 minutes.) Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.

Return pasta to pot, add meat sauce, and toss to coat evenly.

Pour half the pasta and sauce mixture into a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Top with half the cheese. Add the rest of the pasta and sauce and top with the remaining sauce.

Cook about 20-25 minutes until sauce is bubbly.