Baked Ziti (Pasta Casserole)
Serves 15 to 20 on a buffet
Sue writes: "I always look forward to potluck dinners. I guess this would be considered a main dish, one of my favorites. It makes enough to feed about 15 to 20 people on a buffet line. This dish stays fairly warm for a long period of time because of its size."
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 pound ground pork or sausage
- 2 onions, roughly chopped (I like using the sweet ones.)
- 2 bell peppers, roughly chopped (Use any color you like.)
- 2 cans (28-ounces each) of chopped tomatoes or tomato puree (Depends on whether you like chunks of tomato or not.)
- 8 cloves or to taste of crushed garlic
- Basil, oregano, parsley, preferably fresh, or dried to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Red wine
- 2 boxes (16 ounces each) ziti pasta, with or without ridges
- Olive oil
- 3 cups of shredded cheese, either mozzarella or a combination of Italian cheeses
Preheat oven to 350° F. In a large bowl combine the first 8 ingredients until just mixed. Transfer to a large skillet and cook until meat is cooked well through. Add red wine if mixture seems a little dry or even just to flavor.
While this is cooking, cook the two boxes of ziti according to directions on the package and drain; do not rinse. In a large bowl (big enough to accommodate the macaroni as well as the sauce you're making) toss macaroni with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When sauce is done add to bowl with macaroni and toss to coat evenly. Place in pan (see note) and sprinkle on all the cheese. Bake, covered with foil, for 30 minutes if warm, an hour if previously prepared and refrigerated. Uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
Notes: I use one of those disposable aluminum turkey pans for this. They are cheap and you do not have to worry about retrieving a dish from a host's house (or washing it) later on.
About Sue: Sue's e-mail address is Susan.C.Cabral@SAIC.com.