Pasta is my ultimate comfort food: Whenever I'm feeling down, tired, or super hungry, pasta with slightly spicy tomato sauce is the dish I crave the most. And this recipe for baked ziti satisfies like almost nothing else can. Because, let's get serious, what's better than layers of creamy ricotta, gooey mozzarella, and nutty parmesan in between tender, tomato-covered noodles? I really can't say. Unless we were going to start talking about dessert...
- 2 olive oil, plus more for the pan
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and grated with a Microplane or minced
- Two 26-ounce cans of tomatoes, preferably Pomi
- Salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
- Pinch of dried red chile flakes, plus more to taste
- 1 ziti
- 1/2 fresh ricotta
- 1 ball mozzarella (about 8.8 ounces)
- Parmesan, for grating
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and then the grated garlic. Cook for about 30 seconds to a minute, just before the garlic browns. Then add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, and chile flakes to taste. Bring to a simmer, then continue to cook over medium to medium-low heat for about 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the ziti and cook until just al dente (still a little firm). Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Drain the ziti and add it to the tomato sauce, tossing to combine. Then, in an oiled baking dish, spread a layer of the pasta on the bottom. Top it with sprinkled dollops of ricotta and roughly torn pieces of mozzarella (use your hands to gently rip the pieces apart). Add another layer of pasta followed by another layer of cheese. Finish with a final layer and top with any remaining ricotta and mozzarella and then a generous coating of Parmesan.
Bake in the oven for about 10-12 minutes, or until the cheese has melted. Serve immediately (though cold leftovers still taste quite delicious the next day.)