Baby Shower Baked Ziti

My sister is expecting her first baby this October and my, oh my, am I excited to be an aunt for the first time. From babysitting the little guy, to seeing him in his first Christmas outfit, to watching my sister and brother as parents –  I can not wait until he makes his big debut!

This weekend my parents hosted a big co-ed baby shower and my contribution to the spread was a massive tray of baked ziti. I simplified by doctoring up store-bought marinara and cooking the day before the party. I did not bake in the oven or add the cheese on top until the day of. Just compile and let the ziti come to room temperature – stash in the fridge and cover with foil until you’re ready to bake. Make ahead or make for Sunday night dinner, the ziti is a crowd-pleaser. How can it not be – there’s three different kinds of cheese in it!

The recipe below serves about 12 people.

Baby Shower Baked Ziti

  • 1 box ziti
  • 2 jars marinara sauce
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tub ricotta (15 oz.)
  • 3 cups mozzarella
  • 1 cup parmesan
  • 2 tbsp. Italian seasoning

1. Cook ziti until al dente according to package directions. Rinse under cold water to bring noodles to room temp. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Heat olive oil over medium heat and add diced onion. Season with salt and saute until onion is soft and translucent. About 4 minutes.

3. Add garlic and stir for a minute. Add jarred marinara sauce and 1 tbsp. italian seasoning. Bring to a low boil and then turn down and let the sauce simmer for 15 minutes.

4. Combine ricotta, eggs, 1 cup mozzarella, 1/2 cup parmesan, 1 tbsp of italian seasoning in large bowl. Don’t overmix – leave it kind of chunky.

5. Mix cold noodles and ricotta mixture together. Add half of the marinara, combine and put into baking dish.

6. Top with remaining marinara, mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Cover in foil and bake for half hour. Uncover for about 10 minutes to let the cheese melt. Once cheese is melted – crank on the broiler to high for a few minutes to get the bubbling-golden-cheesy-deliciousness.

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*If making ahead and putting in the oven straight from fridge – increase cooking time by about 20 minutes.

 

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