San Giorgio Baked Ziti Recipes are a delicious and versatile way to feed your family Italian pasta. They can be meaty or vegetarian and are great for parties! Includes make ahead instructions too.
I come from an Italian family of excellent cooks. Both my parents were Italian immigrants and I inherited not only good cooking talent but, our family recipes too!
She was a food pusher and always offered Annisette (anise flavored liqueur) with espresso to all of our guests. She was well-known for her cooking and most of all her Italian Rum Cake!
Those were the days, because not only did I get to eat a fantastic Sunday dinner in the middle of the afternoon, I also didn’t have to clean up the dishes. I so MISS that!
Easy San Giorgio Baked Ziti Pasta Recipes
I’m going to give you explanations of what ingredients to use and how. I’ll share some information on how to cook it so that your baked ziti comes out perfect every time! Read about How Long Does it Take to Cook Perfect Pasta.
What’s more is that you can make baked ziti dishes vegetarian or meaty. You can add ground beef or Italian sausage and make it more hearty for the meat lovers in your family or simply omit it for vegetarians.
Within the text below, I’ll mention my two baked ziti recipes and the delicious sauce that I use to make them. “The secret is in the sauce” said someone who must have been a good cook! Wink! My mom called it “gravy” in her broken English.
Pasta is comfort food and beloved by so many. It’s a cheap and filling way to feed your family, especially large ones. Cheesy casseroles are just the way mothers say “I love you” and a great way to feed growing teens who seem to have a bottomless pit.
Baked ziti recipes use mozzarella cheese, dare I say always? You can use fresh mozzarella, or shredded mozzarella, which is a little drier or both as I do in my recipe.
I use the bagged, shredded mozzarella cheese to mix with the ricotta cheese, grated Parmesan cheese and the other ingredients and sometimes put fresh mozzarella slices, if I have them, on top of the pasta mixture before baking.
I use my homemade tomato sauce to make baked ziti because it adds so much more flavor without the preservatives, fillers and most of all SUGAR!
Plus, my tomato sauce has the right amount of good quality extra virgin olive oil that is necessary for a good-tasting tomato sauce.
Of course, you can use whatever is your favorite store brand of pasta sauce if you want to.
Cups of Spaghetti Sauce
You’ll need about 3 cups or 24 ounces of spaghetti sauce or more. I put some on the bottom of the casserole dish before I spoon in the pasta mixture (which also contains some of the sauce) and then I like to put some more sauce on top with some mozzarella cheese before putting it in the oven, covered in aluminum foil.
I’ve made baked ziti for many years with cooked Italian sausage. I cook the sausage in tomato sauce, remove it hours later, slice it and add it to my baked ziti. It’s wonderful.
Add it if you wish. You may instead add grilled or roasted Italian sausage, which is the way my husband prefers it in the baked ziti.
I use a large 8 qt. bowl to combine the eggs, cheeses and spices. Then, I add the cooked ziti and tomato sauce or I use the pot in which I cooked the ziti to combine all of the ingredients. You need a bowl large enough to be able to stir all of the ingredients before transferring it to the baking dish.
By the way, you can make your own ricotta cheese in your Instant Pot! It’s very easy with just two ingredients- milk and white vinegar. It comes in handy when you can’t run out to the store. It’s also simply delicious!
I use a 13″ x 9″ x 3″ inch glass casserole dish but, you can use anyone you like that is about that size or larger. You don’t want to overfill the casserole dish or the sauce and cheese will end up on the bottom of your oven.
I use about 1/2 tsp of granulated garlic in my baked ziti recipes. Of course you can add more or less if you prefer. But, I do like using garlic powder vs. fresh minced garlic because I feel it coats the pasta better and spreads the flavor more evenly. Plus, it’s faster and cleaner.
San Giorgio Ziti
I typically use two brands of pasta- San Giorgio or Barilla. It depends on what’s on sale. I’ve also entered my Italian Baked Ziti with Ricotta Cheese Recipe +VIDEO into a San Giorgio Pasta Contest on a Philly Radio station once. It was an honor being selected to participate and being on air with a popular Philly station for 15 minutes. I call it my “15 minutes of fame.”
What’s funny is that my baked ziti recipe was based on San Giorgio’s recipe. I made some changes of course like using my own tomato sauce a.k.a. Sunday Gravy. It makes a HUGE difference in taste when using homemade tomato sauce but, you probably already know that.
You’d probably like my Baked Ziti with Ground Beef and Provolone too which is a nice alternative especially if you don’t have ricotta cheese.
You want to cook the fewer minutes for al dente, which means “to the tooth,” which is 10 minutes to cook the whole box. However, you want to cook it for 8 minutes instead, because the pasta will continue took when it’s in the oven.
Consequently, your pasta won’t be too tender when you take it out of the oven. Plus, it’ll get even more tender when you reheat leftovers. Take all of this into consideration.
Also, the San Giorgio package directions indicate to add one tablespoon of salt to five quarts of water to avoid sticking, which that’s not the reason. Your pasta will stick simply if you don’t stir it when you first add it to the boiling water. Stir it again while it’s cooking.
Also, you need to add more salt than the box states. Add 3-4 tablespoons of table salt for 5 qts of water. Salting the water, flavors the pasta and it makes a big difference in taste.
If you forget to add the salt in the beginning, add it right after you put in the pasta or shortly after.
Preheat your oven to 375F. You want the temperature to be at 375F, not 350F because the pasta is already cooked and the casserole is at room temperature. Therefore, only the sauce, egg and cheeses need to heat through and the cheeses will melt. Doesn’t that sound yummy?
Spoon Pasta Mixture
First, I spoon some tomato sauce on the bottom of the baking dish.
Once I’ve cooked the ziti for eight minutes in salted water and drain it, I combine it with the remaining ingredients- spices, one egg, ricotta, mozzarella and grated Parmesan cheeses, tomato sauce. Then, I spoon the pasta mixture into a 13″x 9″x 3″ baking dish.
Then, I cover the filled baking dish with aluminum foil and bake it at 375F for about 30 minutes. You’ll begin to see the cheese bubbly in the sides or corners of the baking dish which is easier to see if you use a glass baking dish.
San Giorgio Baked Ziti recipes are delicious especially with some modifications like using homemade tomato sauce instead of store-bought, using fresh parsley instead of dried and using more grated Parmesan cheese.
Make Ahead Directions
You can make baked ziti ahead for family gatherings or game day too. Prepare the casserole dish as per instructions but, cover it in aluminum foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 24 hours. Remove plastic wrap, if using, and bake it covered in aluminum foil at 375F for about 45 minutes. You can remove the foil for the last ten minutes or so to allow it to brown a bit on top.
You may also freeze it (but, first cover it tightly with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil) and freeze it up to two months for maximum freshness. Allow it to thaw in the refrigerator overnight and then remove the plastic wrap and re-cover with foil. Bake it at 375F for about 45 minutes. You can remove the foil for the last ten minutes or so to allow it to brown a bit on top.
Then, thaw the frozen
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