These days with a new baby at home, I appreciate meals that can be prepared with my brain on autopilot with a result that is filling and delicious. It’s priorities like that which drive me to consider the meals my own Mom made when I was a kid. One of her perennial classics was Baked Ziti. I’ve since made this a regular in our dinner menu rotation. Best of all, you can use any kind of short pasta!
Though I always knew it was easy to prepare, it wasn’t until my first week as a mother to a newborn that I could experience cooking while sleep deprived and I could prepare this even under those conditions so it must be just that straight-forward.
Minced garlic, to taste
1 kg minced beef (optional substitutes: cannellini beans, cooked lentils, or extra cheese)
5 cups Italian-style tomato sauce (make your own or purchase a jar, your choice)
4 cups of favorite pasta
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced
Fresh basil leaves
1. Preheat oven to 150C.
2. Sautee garlic then brown/cook beef while stirring to keep the beef mince in small pieces. Once the beef is cooked (or almost there), drain excess fat and liquid from the pan then pour in the tomato sauce. Stir and let cook on medium. Add more minced garlic if that’s your thing.
3. Cook the pasta according to box directions, making sure the result is al dente. Stir cooked pasta and shredded mozzarella with meat sauce then place in oven safe dish (you can also mix it in the same dish).
4. Top with sliced mozzarella and fresh basil leaves (photo is of this stage in the process).
5. Bake for 25 minutes uncovered. The last few minutes, put the broiler/grill on to lightly brown the cheese top. Serve hot.