Baked Ziti Intro We get a lot of reader questions about pots and pans, and one of the things I always tell people is that a good skillet is indispensable in the kitchen.  It’s the pan I use the most, and its versatility makes it quite the workhorse.  I love a good skillet meal, and especially one that can all be made in ONE pot.  Seriously, one stinking pot to clean up after dinner.  Awesome.  The pasta in this dish cooks right in the skillet and then it’s popped in the oven at the very end to melt the gooey cheese topping.  My whole family loves this, and though the serving size is 4, when I make it with sausage (optional) it’s more than enough for my family of 5 (3 of those being little people.)  Pair it along side a salad and some French bread, and you could very easily serve more.  Except for the fact that everyone will want seconds :)

If you want to make this meatless, the sausage is totally optional.  I like both the flavor and the bulk of the sausage, and it does stretch out the servings by quite a bit.  I pretty much use turkey sausage in any and every recipe that calls for Italian sausage, and you can use either the “sweet” or “hot” variety.  Remove it from the castings and cook it until it’s browned and cooked through.

Browned sausage Then add a generous amount of fresh garlic,

Smashed Garlic
and some red pepper flakes.  This isn’t a spicy dish- these just add flavor.  And no I did not dump those on my counter top on purpose.  I just figured if I spilled, I may as well make it pretty.  Spread the chili-flake-love

Red Chili Flakes
After those saute for a minute, add some canned tomatoes.  When you read the directions, you’ll wonder why we’re using whole tomatoes pulsed in a food processor as opposed to a can of crushed tomatoes.  I don’t know, except that I remember reading the reasoning behind it in an issue of Cook’s Illustrated, and when America’s Test Kitchen tells me something, I don’t argue.  That being said, if you have a can of crushed tomatoes, go for it.

canned tomatoes Then add some water; this is the cooking liquid for the pasta.

Adding Water Add the dried pasta right into the skillet.  My store was actually out of ziti (really) so I’m going with rigatoni.  Anything with little ridges is great because they help hold onto the sauce.

rigatoni It’s important that your skillet have a lid at this point.  You’ll want to cover it up to trap in that moisture so the pasta can cook.  Peek in frequently and stir things around.  You’ll see the pasta isn’t completely submerged in the liquid so that’s why it takes longer than just boiling pasta in water.  It will absorb almost all of the cooking liquid.

When the pasta is tender, add in a little cream.  Don’t even ask me if you can substitute something here, just live on the edge.  It’s not a ton, and it adds so much richness and creaminess.  There’s really no substitution without sacrificing major flavor.

Adding Cream Also add in some chopped fresh basil,

Chopped oregano and some shredded Parmesan cheese.  Use the real, shredded cheese, not the crumbly stuff in a can.

Shaved Parm Last quick step is to sprinkle some mozzarella on top and pop that skillet in the oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Skillet Baked Ziti from Our Best Bites It’s comforting, and warm, and perfect for a chilly night.

Baked Ziti Dinner from Our Best Bites Pair it with a simple salad for a filling, balanced dinner.  It would even be totally appropriate for company.  Everyone loves a good Italian dish!

Cheesy Baked Ziti from Our Best Bites

 

 

 

Cheesy Skillet Baked Ziti from Our Best Bites

 

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42comments

  1. 1
    Jaime says:

    This looks delicious!! My family LOVES bakes ziti, but it usually trashes my kitchen from all the pots and pans–I am going to have to try this one!

  2. 2

    That looks AMAZING. I’m totally putting it on the men for this week.

  3. 3
    Ellie says:

    This looks and sounds delicious. I LOVE one-dish meals! I’m going to try it tomorrow.

  4. 4

    This looks great! Love new skillet recipes and especially ones that take one pan.. Less clean up makes me SMILE :)

  5. 5
    Jenny says:

    A meatless, one pan meal?! Sign me up! Can’t wait to try this!

  6. 6

    This look delicious, and so much easier! So…I have to ask, what brand skillet do you use? And, nonstick or not? Thanks!

    • 6.1

      I actually used a stainless steel pan in this recipe. The one in the photo is from the Better Homes and Garden’s line. I have several, including some non-stick Calphalon, and the grand-daddy giant All Clad that I love.

  7. 7

    I think I just found tonight’s dinner!

  8. 8
    Kami says:

    Yum! I remember that tidbit about whole canned tomatoes, too. I think it was that the whole tomatoes tend to be better quality compared to the crushed or diced tomatoes. Thanks for another great recipe!

  9. 9
    Stacey says:

    The photos are gorgeous! It looks SO good.

  10. 10
    Shealyn says:

    Yum. Just had it for dinner. Very tasty.

  11. 11
    Michelle Pedersen says:

    Oh YUM! One dish – sold. Pasta & cheese – double sold! LOL Thanks, ladies! Looks fantastic.

  12. 12
    Shauna says:

    Made this for dinner tonight and it’s made the family favorites list! I even used substitutes for just about everything and it was still amazing!

  13. 13
    Sara Wutzke says:

    Yum! I have a pound of bulk hot Italian sausage in my fridge right now! Dinner ;)

  14. 14
    Lilibet says:

    Is it supposed to read ‘remove sausage from casings’? Looks good, whatever…

  15. 15
    Christy says:

    Made this last night and it was great! Question though, is there any reason you can’t just use crushed tomatoes instead of whole tomatoes? It would save another step and one less thing to clean. Thanks!

    • 15.1

      Glad you liked it Christy! Check out the paragraph in the post right above the pic where I put in the tomatoes. I address this very issue :)

    • 15.2
      Christy says:

      Sorry I missed that! I actually looked at the photo and thought, that looks just like a can of crushed tomatoes, lol!

      • Christy says:

        So I did some checking on this issue. Here is a quote from an article from Cook’s Illustrated:In the test kitchen, we’ve often avoided using crushed tomatoes because the differences among leading brands are so dramatic. The textures vary from watery and thin to so thick you could stand a spoon in it. You might get peels or no peels; plentiful seeds or none; big, rough-cut chunks of tomato or a smooth, sauce-like consistency with no chunks at all.

        So they did a taste test and here are three that came up as recommended and are names that I recognize from the store:
        Muir Glen Organic Crushed Tomatoes
        Hunts Organic Crushed Tomatoes
        Progressive Crushed Tomatoes with added puree

        Hope this makes this dish even easier to make than it already is!

  16. 16
    Erika says:

    I just made this for our dinner tonight and my samplings reveal it’s delicious. Unfortunately though it’s super liquidy…almost soup like. I’m guessing this is something related to the fact that everything I bake here (I recently moved to Orlando, FL) requires more flour. I haven’t figured it out yet but every thing I make here requires at least an extra cup of flour. I’ve lived all across the country and find each recipe turns out differently even when I follow the instructions to the T! The recipe was great, I’ll just remember next time to use half as much water.

    • 16.1
      Erika says:

      That may have been confusing–I realize this recipe doesn’t require flour. I’m just saying that everything here requires less liquid. I’m not crazy, I promise! :)

  17. 17
    Hilary says:

    I made this last night. It was so tasty. Even my picky nieces, who will eat nothing, enjoyed this meal. It feed 4 adults and 3 kids with leftovers. Will be making this again for sure!!

  18. 18
    Becky says:

    This was totally awesome! I think it might be my new favorite dinner. I didn’t have a skillet big enough to cook the noodles in the same pan, so I just did them separate, and added them to the sauce. We loved it!

  19. 19
    Pam says:

    My family quickly declared this to be a new favorite! Thanks for the great recipe!

  20. 20
    Penelope says:

    I made this two nights ago and my husband is still talking about how god it was. I will definitely be making this again! Yummy!

  21. 21
    Amy F says:

    I made this yesterday and it was delicious! I halved the recipe, with sausage, and it fit perfectly in my 10″ skillet.

  22. 22
    Holly Kroegel says:

    Just made this for dinner tonight and it was so delicious! The cream really adds something special and how can you not love that it’s all done in one pan. Thanks for this my family has a new favorite :)

  23. 23
    Rebecca says:

    I made mine meatless, used 1/8 t. red pepper flakes and 5 cloves of garlic and wow, totally delicious!!!! And the best part is there is plenty for tomorrow night too! :) We are going to call this “pink pasta” and I plan on making it again and again! Thanks OBB for another keeper!

  24. 24
    Christi Walsh says:

    Holy cow-I think this is the only dinner I’ve ever made that all six kids have eaten without complaint. Thank you! Its easy and delicious!!!

  25. 25
    Shelley says:

    This was soooo good! I made this for my family of six with the sausage, and it easily fed everyone and had leftovers for a couple more. Everyone loved it and not one complaint. This is for sure going into my rotation.

  26. 26
    Ashlee says:

    We loved this last week! Even my girls 4 & 2 ate it all! We just made a change and we used regular sausage, since Italian is too spicy for my kids. But my husband was very impressed that it tasted so great! Thanks for another awesome recipe.

  27. 27
    Angela says:

    thank you for a recipe so easy and fool proof that my husband made it! delish! And no huge mess of a kitchen to clean up! win, win, win

  28. 28
    PINKPINK1976 says:

    This was fantastic ! I added some sauteed onions, bell peppers, zucchini. It did look a bit watery while the pasta was cooking for I took off the lid for the last 5 mins on the stove.

  29. 29
    Cynthia H. says:

    I made this tonight for our family of six and it was a hit with everyone. This will be featured regularly in our dinner rotation. Thanks for a great and easy recipe!

  30. 30
    Joanne says:

    Love Love Love. My family practically licks their plates. Thanks so much for this family favorite.

  31. 31
    Shaunie says:

    This recipe has become one of my family’s favorites. Does anyone know if it freezes well?

  32. 32
    Glindy says:

    I’m wondering if I could assemble this dish, stick it in the fridge before church, then give it a stir and bake it when we get home?

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