Friday, December 26, 2014

Bake Fresh or Freeze Ahead

This is a good meal to double. You can bake one to eat that day and then freeze the other for another day.

Easy Ziti Bake


12 ounces uncooked ziti or small tube pasta
2 pounds ground beef
1 garlic clove, minced or 1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 jar (24 ounces) spaghetti sauce
2 eggs, beaten
1 carton (15 ounces) ricotta cheese
2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh chopped basil or parsley to garnish, optional


Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Add garlic, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper, to taste. Cook one minute longer. Stir in spaghetti sauce.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, ricotta cheese, 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, and the Parmesan cheese. Drain pasta; add to cheese mixture and stir until blended.

Spoon a third of the meat sauce into a greased 13x9-inch baking dish; top with half of the pasta mixture. Repeat layers. Top with remaining meat sauce.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes or until a thermometer reads 160 degrees F. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake 5 to 10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Let stnd for 15 minutes before serving.

Sprinkle with fresh chopped basil or parsley, if desired.

Yield: 6-8 servings.

Nutrition information: 1 serving equals 630 calories, 30 g fat, 164 mg cholesterol, 878 mg sodium, 45 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 45 g protein.

Source: Taste of Home. You can find it here.

Notes: I did fewer layers. I did half the meat sauce, all of the pasta, and then topped it with the other half of the meat sauce. I also used a full pound of pasta.

When I made this, I doubled the pasta (using two full pounds of pasta) and tripled the sauce and got enough for three 9x13-inch aluminum pans, which I popped in my freezer. This is really good.

To reheat after freezing, you can either allow it to thaw in your refrigerator overnight and then bake as directed, or you can bake from frozen, allowing for a longer baking time since some of the baking time will be thawing time. Plan for at least double the baking time, but it can take longer than that. Bake it, covered, for at least 30 minutes to thaw, and then uncover and bake until hot and bubbling.

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