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Saturday, January 8, 2011

Carl Cooks: Baked Ziti With Ricotta & Mozzarella & RAO's Homemade Sauce

I love Ziti and have tried many recipes for the baked version. This one from the Williams Sonoma Pasta Cookbook is my personal favorite. And while I have your attention I have to send props out to one of the best lines of jarred pasta sauces ever called RAO'S. If you've got the time and chops to make your own tomato sauce, great. Otherwise, don't waste your five bucks on most of the ones on the shelf. RAO's is an exceptional one available at most of the better food outlets. It will cost you $8.00 to $10.00 a jar but it is well worth the extra cost.

This dish is super easy to make and all it takes is the stuff I've lined up here.


1 Pound Dried Ziti
1 Jar of Marinara Sauce (RAO'S preferred)
Ricotta Cheese (15 ounces)
Mozzarella Cheese (16 ounces)
Pecorino Romano Cheese (about 5 ounces)
1 egg yoke
Freshly ground nutmeg (generous pinch)
Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley (handful)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Get large pot of water boiling and salted
Cut Mozarella into small cubes
Grate Pecorino Romano
Separate egg yoke from white
Fine Chop Parsley

Mix Ricotta, 1/2 Pecorino Romano, Parsley & egg yoke well in large bowl
Use microplane to grate the nutmeg right into the mixture
Boil Ziti per package instructions, then drain well
Warm tomato sauce
Fold cooked Ziti and Mozzarella cubes and warmed sauce into the cheese mix


Pre Heat Oven to 425 degrees
Transfer mixture into Olive Oil prepared baking dish
Top with remaining Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
Drizzle with Olive Oil
Cook about 25 minutes until golden/crisp/bubbly

What makes this so tasty is the tubular shape of the pasta. It fills up with all of the deliciousness of the sweet Ricotta and tomato sauce. The nutmeg is there just in the background and the Mozzarella chunks melt nicely to add heft and satisfaction. This dish is so rich and bold that I normally just pair it with a light salad. The one shown here is a simple mix of watercress leaves, finely chopped leeks and thinly shaved fennel tossed with just extra virgin olive oil/sea salt/ freshly ground pepper.

Try baked Ziti for a change. It has all of the comfort of Macaroni & Cheese but with the added sweetness of tomato sauce.


  1. Well Carl, you've done it again. You got my mouth watering. And I'll even forgive you for using jar sauce! I like the touch with the nutmeg (very Northern Italian) and there's plenty of mozzi (pronounced mootsi) to go around as well! Good job!

  2. Made your Ziti. It came out awesome!

  3. Hi: what size pan did you use?

    1. My baking pan is a cast iron version that is 9" x 13" and extra deep at 3". This batch will fit in any 9" x 13" pan but in the more shallow pans like the glass Pyrex ones it will be right up to the edge. In my deep pan it only fills it up about 2/3 of the way.

  4. hello, thank you for the amazing recipe! i want to make this for mother's day tomorrow but the problem is i dont have a glass baking pan. can i use an aluminum baking pan?
    thank youuuu