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Cheesy Creamy Baked Ziti

This is an amazingly creamy, cheesy, full-flavored baked ziti that’s easy enough for any weeknight.  The entire family, both kids and grown-ups, will devour every single bite. Great meal for bringing to others, too.

Creamy Cheesy Baked Ziti 5

I’ve never been motivated to make baked ziti, since it seemed like just another uneventful pasta.  I already have this awesome sauce that’s totally fail proof and always a big hit.  It turns any plain old pasta into a stellar meal.

But then I saw this in Christine Ha’s cookbook…

Cheesy Creamy Baked Ziti 3

And I had to make it.

I’ve made Christine’s recipes before, always with solid results.  She has an outstanding set of taste buds that have been honed through her years as a chef who learned to cook without her eyesight.

I figured in anyone could make a plain ol’ baked ziti taste amazing, it would be her.

Cheesy Creamy Baked Ziti 7

This cheesy creamy baked ziti is amazing indeed.

Chewy, toothsome ziti is smothered with a creamy tomato sauce that has the perfect balance of flavors.

I used plain Greek yogurt in lieu of sour cream, which healthifies the dish without sacrificing one ounce of creamy goodness.

Cheesy Creamy Baked Ziti

We used our favorite all natural sausage and plenty of fresh basil.  Fresh spinach for good measure.

Abundant garlic.  Of course.

That combination simply can’t be wrong.

Cheesy Creamy Baked Ziti 2

Oh, yeah.  Cheese.  Bring it on.

Lots of ooey gooey fresh mozzarella and parmesan on top is a must.

Creamy Cheesy Baked Ziti 6

Here’s to making simple recipes taste extraordinary.

Good food that’s easy enough for Monday night yet delicious enough for sharing with friends on the weekend.

Enjoy!

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Cheesy Creamy Baked Ziti

This Cheesy Creamy Baked Ziti is beyond your everyday pasta. It’s easy yet tastes extraordinary. Perfect for weeknight family meals and weekend guests alike.

Yield: 4-6 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 (16 oz) package of ziti
  • olive oil for sprinkling
  • 1 lb Italian sausage (no casings)
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cups your favorite spaghetti sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly chopped spinach (not frozen; coarsely chop)
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 6 oz shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 5 oz shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Instructions

  1. In a large pot of generously salted water, cook ziti just until slightly firmer than al dente. Go about 1 minute less than package instructions for al-dente. Drain, but don’t rinse. Sprinkle with olive oil, toss, and set aside.
  2. In a heavy large saucepan over medium heat, brown the sausage, into small pieces. Add garlic and onion, stirring for 2 minutes or until soft. Stir in spaghetti sauce and spinach. Simmer just until sauce is warmed through and spinach is wilted. stir in yogurt and remove from heat. Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350F, with rack on lower middle position. In a 3 quart baking dish, spread a thin layer of sauce over the entire bottom of dish. Arrange half of the ziti in the dish. Layer with half of the Monterey Jack and half of the Mozzarella. Pour half of the spaghetti sauce over the cheeses, spreading sauce evenly onto sides and corners. Repeat layers of ziti, cheeses, and sauce. Sprinkle Parmesan over the top and bake about 30-40 minutes, until cheese is bubbly.
  4. Garnish with basil and serve.
  • Category: main
  • Cuisine: italian

Did you make this?

Leave a comment below and tag @chewoutloud on Instagram

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from Recipes from My Home Kitchen cookbook.

Here are a few of our favorite Weeknight Pasta Dishes that taste Amazing!

  1.  Easy Cheesy Baked Ravioli is a sure hit, every single time.

Cheesy Ravioli with meat sauce

  1.  This Sausage and Veggies Sauce is simply awesome over all of your favorite pastas.  It transforms the ordinary into extraordinary!

Chunky Vegetable and Sausage Pasta Sauce

  1.  This Creamy Tomato and Sausage pasta is so easy for any Monday night, but good enough to serve your friends on the weekend!

Creamy Tomato Sausage Pasta Cheese

  1.  This is the best Pasta Bolognese we’ve ever tasted.  Serious yummy-ness here.

Pasta Bolognese

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Recipe rating

13 comments

    • Jay

    Delicious! I know this is an old recipe but I tried making it recently with a few more calorie-friendly modifications: I omited the oil; halfed the cheese, yogurt, garlic and a quarter of the onion in the entire recipe; used non fat greek yogurt; swapped out fresh basil for dried oregano and parsley that I used for garnish instead; I also only had ground chicken that I seasoned myself on hand so I used that instead; and finally went ahead and used the mixed salad greens, mild cheddar, and chopped up fresh mozzerella I already had on hand in the dish as well. I also only had red lentil fusilli from hungryroot, and went ahead and tried this with what I had still came out amazing! I honestly accidently left out an extra garlic(wanted to use 2-2.5 cloves but left out the remaining 1-1.5, will add that in next time and more onion closer to recipe suggestions next time. As a cheese lover only a small part of me wished for more cheesyness but that was only upon first taste since I was a little too eager to eat it directly out of the oven! Once cooled a little the flavors blended so well together for just under 400 calories a serving and 30g protein, 5g of fiber, relatively lactose intolerant friendly in small portions and great micronutrient profile! This will be a new staple recipe of mine from now on!

      • chewoutloud

      Super happy you liked this, Jay! And thanks for the options 🙂

      • chewoutloud

      Yay, thanks so much! Glad you came over today 🙂

    • Annette

    I made this ziti this week and everyone loved it! BIG HIT! Yummy.

      • chewoutloud

      Yay, way to go, Annette! So glad you tried it and loved it 🙂 Thanks for letting us know!

    • Debbie Page

    I’m making this tomorrow yummmmm

      • chewoutloud

      Hope you love it as much as we do, Debbie! 🙂

    • Thalia @ butter and brioche

    Words cannot express how badly I am craving the cheesey deliciousness of this ziti right now. It looks SO amazing.. the perfect comfort food!

      • chewoutloud

      I couldn’t stop eating just one more bite :). Thanks for coming over, Thalia!

    • Jen {Bakerette.com}

    Great recipe! Definitely going to make this for the family!

      • chewoutloud

      Hope your fam loves it as much as mine does :). Thanks for coming over today, Jen!

    • Deanna M. Deason

    Yummified!

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