This ziti casserole is a simple combination of a seasoned tomato sauce and ground beef, baked to perfection with a mozzarella cheese topping. You might want to use macaroni in the recipe, or use a mini penne or a similar tubular pasta.
I love this dish with garlic bread and a simple tossed salad. A Caesar salad would be fabulous as well.
You can vary the cheese in this. Add some Parmesan cheese to the casserole mixture and the topping.
- 8 ounces ziti pasta
- 1 pound lean ground beef (ground chuck or ground round)
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped, about 1/2 cup
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf basil, crumbled
- 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf oregano, crumbled
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or small clove garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
- Cook the ziti in boiling salted water following the package directions. Drain well and set aside.
- Heat the oven to 350 F (180 C/Gas 4).
- Lightly butter a 2 1/2-quart baking dish.
- In a large skillet or saute pan heat the oil. When the oil is hot, add the ground beef, onion, and green bell pepper. Cook, stirring until the onion is tender and the beef is no longer pink. Drain off excess fat and then add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, basil, oregano, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer.
- Add the cooked pasta and half of the mozzarella cheese; transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish.
- Top the casserole with the remaining mozzarella cheese.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
Tips and Variations
Replace the ziti with elbow macaroni, penne or mini penne, or another similar pasta shape.
Use 1 pound of bulk Italian sausage and omit the ground beef.
Use 1 pound of ground turkey and omit the ground beef.
Add an extra 1/2 pound of ground beef or Italian sausage for a meatier casserole.
Replace the mozzarella cheese with a pizza cheese blend, an Italian cheese blend, or cheddar and mozzarella.
To make ahead, prepare the casserole, cover tightly with foil, and refrigerate. Take it out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before baking. Bake as directed, until hot and bubbly.