The other day I left work harboring a serious craving for pasta. Originally I was thinking of going with something light, maybe a white wine and garlic sauce mixed with some zucchini. You know, a dinner that wouldn’t make me feel super guilty or have me sprinting to the gym (if I were the type of person to sprint to the gym that is). However, 15 minutes into our Whole Foods run, it was apparent my original plan became little more than a distant memory while Meesh and I began filling our shopping cart with meat, tomatoes and lots of CHEESE! The plan quickly changed and the next thing I knew we were inventing our own version of Meaty Baked Ziti Caprese. With a little inspiration from a recipe we found on Cooking With Friends, allow me to introduce one seriously indulgent baked ziti dish.
- 1lb Ground Beef
- 3 Tomatoes
- 4 Garlic Cloves
- 2 cans Whole Peeled Tomatoes – (can used crushed or diced tomatoes here as well)
- 1 can Tomato Sauce
- 2 cups Mushrooms
- 2 boxes Wheat Ziti
- 2 medium Onions (minced)
- 10 oz Fresh Mozzarella
- 8 oz Shredded Mozzarella
- Flat Leaf Parsley
- Chili Powder
- 1 tbsp Sugar
- *1 large pan or casserole dish
Before you start cooking, be sure to preheat the oven to 350°. You’ll need it later when the ziti is ready for baking. Once that’s taken care of, you’re ready to begin.
Start with the sauce, the more time is has to simmer, the more flavorful it will get! Combine 2 cans whole peeled tomatoes and 1 can tomato sauce in a pot, and place on stove over medium heat. Chop about a handful parsley, a handful of basil, sugar and garlic and add to sauce. Sauté about half the minced onion with evoo in separate pan over medium heat until it turns golden, once golden add to sauce. Bring sauce to a simmer on medium-low heat.
looks a little like christmas
chopping parsley | all fingers still in tact
While the sauce is cooking, begin to boil water for the ziti in a separate pot. When water starts to bubble, cook the pasta until al-dente then strain. Add some evoo to ziti and stir so that it does not stick, and set aside.
While the sauce and ziti are working, take the second minced onion and sauté in pan with evoo over medium heat. After three to five minutes, add mushrooms and ground beef. Season with salt, pepper and chili powder to taste. Cook until beef is almost completely brown. (It does not need to be fully cooked because it will continue to bake once placed in the sauce and then in the oven.) Drain grease and extra evoo from the pan, then combine beef, mushrooms and onion mixture with the already simmering sauce.
“hot like sauce” | great song by pretty lights
Once all the components are ready, its time to layer. Start with a layer of ziti, topped by a layer of shredded mozzarella. Then add meat sauce and one layer of fresh sliced tomatoes topped with fresh sliced mozzarella. Then repeat. Ziti, shredded mozarella and lots of sauce! Top with fresh sliced tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil. The layers are also listed below but feel free to switch it up!
- Shredded Mozzarella
- Meat Sauce
- Sliced Tomato
- Fresh sliced Mozarella
- Repeat 1-5
- Top with Basil
let the layering begin
Once ready, bake in oven for 20-25 minutes at 350°. Once ready, remove, let cool, and enjoy!
dinner is served!