Every year for my birthday growing up, my meals were pretty much planned out.
Pancakes for breakfast, and baked ziti for dinner.
It’s one of my very favorite meals, hands down.
This is serious.
And now baked ziti forever reminds me of birthdays and family and love on a fork.
Today happens to be Penpal’s birthday, and since he’s busy overseas doing the darn thing, I decided to make my own baked ziti last night in his honor!
It was already his birthday in Afghanistan by the time I ate it, so obviously this was 100% for him and had nothing to do with the fact that I had a huge craving for mozzarella drenched in tomato sauce, or that I was ready to test out my lactose intolerance v. gluten intolerance (i.e. whether my lactose thang has actually been a gluten problem all this time).
(In case you’re wondering… yep, still slightly lactose intolerant. Excellent.)
This is yet another stupid simple recipe for you all! And it never disappoints… Unless you buy brown rice pasta because you’re trying to stick to being gluten-free for a few more days, in which case you’ll probably call me yelling about how something tasted “off” and sort of blah when compared to how you might imagine the platters prepared by Italian grandmas to taste.
And of course my mom did not get a call from me last night asking why this didn’t actually taste like when she makes it for me… or like any of the past times I’ve made this recipe for myself in the past. I mean, what do you guys take me for?
I actually used fusilli (the curly screw shaped pasta), although traditionally this is made with ziti.
I know, you never would have guessed that on your own.
Any tube-shaped pasta works best. Oh, and as for the mozz? I’m all for fitting in your skinny jeans, but take my word for it and do not try to use fat free… It will not melt.
Besides, wouldn’t you rather being in stretchy spandex when forking bowl-fulls of this stuff in your face on a chilly fall evening?
That’s what I thought.
PS. Happy Birthday Penpal! 😀
- 1 pound pasta (ziti is traditional, but can also easily sub in penne or rigatoni- tube shape works best)
- tomato sauce (bologne works best because it’s thicker, but marinara is fine!)
- 15 ounce container Ricotta
- small package mozzarella (I use part-skim)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta and sauce (separately, as you normally would). Slice mozzarella (not paper thin but not very thick!), about half of the small package.
2. Pour still warm pasta in a baking pan. Add ricotta by the spoonful, followed by chunks of mozzarella. Add sauce on top and mix well so that the whole pan of pasta is pink with sauce (including all the cheese).
3. Add more sauce to cover entire tray on top, as well as a final layer of mozzarella across the top layer of pasta.
*Note: the brown rice pasta I used on this particular instance caused the baked ziti to be much drier than normal, which is why I do not recommend it being used regularly in this recipe.
What’s your favorite birthday meal?!