Dec 12, 2011

Baked Ziti with pesto

baked ziti with pesto

Now that the winter is no doubt upon us – I am ready for baked pasta dishes.  There is something so satisfying and comforting about pasta baked with sauce and cheeses. 

baked ziti with pesto 2

This version mixes in some pesto sauce right in with the ricotta cheese mixture.  Its an easy way to get that fresh herb taste – without having to buy fresh herbs!  I can’t just walk into my backyard and pick some fresh basil anymore – so this is perfect.   My grocery store has a great olive bar that also has fresh-made pesto – so I bought just the amount that I would need for this recipe. 


baked ziti with pesto 3


  • 1 pound ziti
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes in thick puree
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh-ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups grated Mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1/3 cups Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup store-bought or homemade pesto


1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.

2. In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.  Add the tomatoes, salt and bay leaf. 

3. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until very thick, about 15-20 minutes.  Stir in 1/4 tsp. of the pepper.  Remove the bay leaf.

4. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta for 7 minutes.  (It will be partially cooked). Drain.

5. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, 1 cup of the mozzarella, 3 Tbsp. of the Parmesan, the pesto and remaining 1/4 tsp. pepper.

6. Put half of the cooked pasta into the prepared baking dish and top with about a third of the tomato sauce.  Spread the ricotta mixture on the sauce in an even layer.  Cover with the remaining pasta and then the remaining sauce.  Top with the remaining 1 cup of mozzarella and the rest of the Parmesan. 

7. Bake, covered with foil about 30 minutes; then remove foil and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, until top begins to brown.  Let rest 10 minutes before cutting.

Source: adapted from Bake-aholic

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