Is there anything better than a big serving of warm, saucy pasta with lots of melty cheese? I don’t think so. Pasta’s my ultimate comfort food, and now that it’s getting cold outside, it tastes even better. I definitely associate pasta with cold weather since I always make lasagna for my family on Christmas Eve and Thanksgiving Eve!
Baked ziti has a special place in my heart, too, though. My mom made a big pan the night before every single one of my high school cross country meets since it’s one of my favorite meals and it’s perfect for carb-loading. For dorm cooking, this quick one-skillet baked ziti can’t be beat. The pasta cooks right in the pan with all of the other ingredients– no separate pot needed.
I’ve made this recipe three times now to get the proportions justttttt right and it’s so good– the perfect thing to make for friends all winter long! There are just a few simple steps to making this delicious one-pan pasta.
First, brown the ground beef and add the canned tomatoes and uncooked pasta. Technically, I used Barilla penne instead of ziti but they’re super similar and I like the sound of baked ziti better than baked penne 🙂 In this recipe, the whole grain taste is hardly noticeable.
Add water, cover and let liquid come to a boil, and then simmer on medium-low until pasta is almost cooked to al dente, stirring once or twice.
The pasta magically absorbs most of the water while it cooks, leaving you with perfectly saucy pasta.Add dollops of ricotta cheese (the best cheese in the world, in my opinion) and a generous sprinkle of mozzarella cheese.
Return the lid to the pot to help the cheese melt. If your skillet’s oven-proof, you can pop the skillet under the broiler for 1-2 minutes to let the cheese get just a little toasty. And that’s all it takes to make this big skillet of melty, cheesy, whole grain goodness. It took all of my will-power to snap a few pictures before digging in.
If you try out the recipe, feel free to let me know in a comment or take a picture and tag me @livbane on Instagram. Hope you enjoy!
An easy, cheesy one-skillet baked ziti that's ready in under 30 minutes
- 1/2 pound ground beef (I used 85% lean grass-fed beef)
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 big (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 small (14 oz.) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Optional: 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper for some heat
- 12 oz. whole grain uncooked ziti pasta (I used Barilla)
- 1 cup water, plus 1/2 cup more if necessary
- 16 oz. ricotta cheese (I use whole-milk)
- 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese
- Optional for topping: 1 small fresh tomato, diced, and fresh chopped parsley
- In a large skillet or pot, cook onion and ground beef until browned. Drain grease.
- Add crushed and diced tomatoes to the pan, along with garlic powder, salt, pepper.
- Add uncooked pasta to pan. Top with water and stir. Cover pan with lid, turn heat to high, and bring liquid to a boil. Turn heat down to medium-low and simmer with lid on, cooking until pasta is almost al dente (slightly undercooked still), stirring once or twice during cooking. This will likely be a couple of minutes more than the package directions says since it's on a lower heat (ex: my package said 9 minutes and I did 12 minutes).
- Stir in up to 1/2 cup more water if pasta seems dry. Top with dollops of ricotta cheese and sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese. Return lid to pan to allow cheese to melt. Optional: if the skillet is oven-safe, place under broiler for one to two minutes.
- Top with fresh tomato and parsley, if desired, and serve.
So tell me…
What’s your favorite easy pasta dish?
What type of pasta do you typically buy– regular, whole grain, or gluten-free? Another type?
I grew up eating mostly rice pasta in my family but I generally prefer whole grain pasta. (Although if I’m being honest, regular ol’ white pasta sometimes tastes amazing!) I also enjoy black bean pasta for something different.
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