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…
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.
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.
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.
Oh, yeah. Cheese. Bring it on.
Lots of ooey gooey fresh mozzarella and parmesan on top is a must.
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.
Did you make this?
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Cheesy Creamy Baked Ziti
- 16 ounce 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 ½ cups freshly chopped spinach, not frozen; coarsely chop
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 6 oz shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 5 oz shredded Mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Garnish with basil and serve.
Nutrition (per serving)
Here are a few of our favorite Weeknight Pasta Dishes that taste Amazing!
Easy Cheesy Baked Ravioli is a sure hit, every single time.
This Sausage and Veggies Sauce is simply awesome over all of your favorite pastas. It transforms the ordinary into extraordinary!
This Creamy Tomato and Sausage pasta is so easy for any Monday night, but good enough to serve your friends on the weekend!
This is the best Pasta Bolognese we’ve ever tasted. Serious yummy-ness here.