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Final presentation of Macaroni baked ziti

Macaroni Baked Ziti

This recipe is what my family calls a  JoAnn Concoction.  I did not measure any of the ingredients.  Adjust to your family's size.   Below renders enough for a 4-quart casserole dish, serving 6 adults.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword pasta, ziti
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Author JoAnn


  • Approximately 8 ozs. a-dente cooked macaroni or tube pasta
  • 1 diced onion
  • 4 cloves of chopped garlic
  • 2 seeded vein removed chopped banana peppers (from my garden)
  • 1 lb. ground beef or Italian sausage
  • 1 Tablespoon of each: dried basil dried oregano, dry mustard, paprika - mixed together.
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 oz. Ricotta cheese
  • 6 oz. Cheddar cheese shredded
  • 4 oz. Parmesan cheese shredded
  • 24 oz. of your favorite tomato-based pasta sauce Ragu
  • Basil leaves


  • Heat a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Add macaroni. Return to a boil. Cook till slightly a-dente. Undercooking the pasta is okay, it will finish cooking in the oven. Drain pasta. Return pasta to the hot pot. Add ricotta cheese. Stir in cheese, thoroughly coating all pasta, till ricotta has melted. Sit to the side, keep in a pot so it will stay warm.
  • Heat a large, non-stick skillet to medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add chopped onions. Cook onions for approximately 5-6 minutes, add garlic and chopped banana peppers. Cook an additional 1-2 minutes. I place a paper towel on a plate and remove the onion mixture from the frying pan, allowing it to drain on paper towels. Sit to the side.
  • Return skillet to stove at medium-high heat. Add ground beef (or sausage) to a pan. While breaking up meat into small pieces, add spice mixtures. Brown meat until no longer pink. Drain meat to remove excess fat.
  • Return meat to skillet, along with onion mixture and add tomato sauce, thoroughly mixing together. Heat until sauce is slightly boiling. Remove from heat.
  • Prepare a casserole dish by lightly spraying with olive oil spray. In the bottom of a dish, lay one layer of pasta/ricotta mixture, just enough to cover the bottom of the dish. Pour a layer of your meat mixture. On top of the meat, sprinkle half the cheddar cheese and half the Parmesan cheese. On top of the cheese, lay 3-4 basil leaves.
  • Prepare another layer of ingredients in the same manner, except do not apply basil leaves. Cheese should be the topmost layer.
  • Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 375º for 25 minutes.
  • The sauce should be bubbly; remove from oven and allow to cool. Garnish with basil strips. Serve.