This Baked Ziti is a classic Italian-American comfort food! It's easy to make, perfect for a weeknight meal or a special occasion. Tender pieces of ziti noodles, delicious meat sauce, three different kinds of cheese, you can't go wrong!
Cook the pasta: Cook the ziti or pasta of your choice according to package instructions until it's al dente. The pasta is al dente when it's cooked but still firm when bitten. Drain the pasta in a colander and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees.
Make the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for about 3 minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the meat and cook, breaking it as you go along. Cook it until it's no longer pink, it should take about 5 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper.Stir in the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds just until aromatic. Add the Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes and brown sugar. Add the passata and beef broth then stir everything together. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper as needed.
Toss pasta with sauce: Add the pasta to the sauce and toss it well. If using a skillet you might have to toss everything in a bowl.
Assemble the pasta: Spread half of the ziti over the bottom of a 9x13-inch casserole dish. Top evenly with half the mozzarella cheese, followed by half the Parmesan cheese. Spread the rest of the ziti, then dollop with ricotta over the entire surface of the pasta. Finish with the rest of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
Cover and bake: Cover the casserole with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the cheese starts to get golden.
Garnish and serve: Garnish with fresh basil and serve.
Leftovers: Transfer leftover baked ziti to airtight containers and refrigerate for 3 to 5 days.Freezing: Freeze in a tightly sealed dish for up to a month. When ready to serve, take it out of the freezer the night before and thaw it in the refrigerator. Bake according to instructions.Nutrition: Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on products used.