3.6 8

Baked Ziti with Pesto

Because it's baked, this pasta takes a bit longer from kitchen to table than other dishes in this book. You'll find the preparation time, though, is just as short as that of any other recipe here.

Plus: More Pasta Recipes and Tips

  • Servings: 4

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  • 1/2 pound ziti
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups grated, packaged mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup store-bought or homemade pesto


  1. Heat the oven to 350°. Oil an 8-by-8-inch baking dish.
  2. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta for 7 minutes. It will be partially cooked. Drain. Rinse with cold water and drain again thoroughly.
  3. In a medium saucepan, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, salt, and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer over moderate heat and cook until very thick, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Remove the bay leaf.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, 1 cup of the mozzarella, about half the Parmesan, the pesto, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
  5. Put half of the cooked pasta into the prepared baking dish and top with about a third of the tomato sauce. Spread the ricotta mixture on the sauce in an even layer. Cover with the remaining pasta and then the remaining sauce. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella and the remaining Parmesan. Drizzle with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil. Bake until bubbling, about 30 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before cutting.

Suggested Pairing

This boldly flavored dish needs a rustic red wine to stand up to it. A Salice Salentino from the south of Italy or a Corbières or Cahors from France will serve well.

Photo © Pernille Pedersen

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