My favorite easy recipe to make for my family – and for others – is Baked Ziti Casserole. Now, I’ll be honest. I usually call it mostaciolli . . . even though I typically make it with penne . . . and the general population and Italian restaurants seem to insist it’s made with ziti.
No matter what you call it, though, this dish is fast, easy and delicious.
And it makes great leftovers, too. Some foods don’t, you know (mashed potatoes, I am talking to you!), but baked ziti warms up perfectly in the microwave or – if you’re feeling fancy – in the oven.
After making a big dish of the pasta recently, we were indeed feeling fancy when it was time to reheat it for leftovers. I asked Mark to pop it in the oven for a bit while we finished . . . something. A conversation? A TV show? I don’t remember. The point is – we put the dish back in the oven to warm it up.
As he put it on the table, I noticed the leftover sauce in one of the corners had turned completely black. The rest of the pasta was warmed through perfectly – not burned at all. But that thin layer in the corner, left there after our first meal? Totally charred. Ugh, I said. That is NEVER going to come off.
Now, an important point for us all to keep in mind right about now is that MY DISHWASHER IS BROKEN. I mean, really, that’s important to remember at all times until we get it fixed. Because THE TORTURE. But especially in this case, when I’m torn between enjoying my tasty dish of leftover comfort pasta and the dread of trying to scrub burned sauce out of the soon-to-be-empty pan.
I mean, we had stuff to do! And I still had Thanksgiving dishes to wash! (Don’t judge. This happened several days ago. Although . . . now that I think about it, yes, I do still have a couple dishes from Thanksgiving sitting on my counter. *SIGH*)
It’s annoying enough to have to wash my dishes by hand (I know. I am so very deprived here in my first world full of the problems.), but to spend even more time in the kitchen, soaking and scrubbing and soaking and scrubbing? All because we were too good to nuke individual servings in the microwave?!
Well, lucky for me, I’d forgotten that I used my new can of PAM Cooking Spray in the pan before filling it with pasta. And, as it turns out, PAM’s promise to leave behind 99-percent less residue and buildup is true. I mean, I didn’t compare it with butter, but I know for a fact that my pan came clean a LOT FASTER than it has in the past when I’ve used, ahem, other sprays.
So – score one for me! And for PAM! And for mostaciolli/ziti/penne!
By the way, I also used my can of PAM Baking Spray to make this pound cake – which meant it came out of the pan beautifully and left very little to clean on the pan itself. Win, win!
When I make mostaciolli, I basically dump everything together – meat, pasta, sauce. That’s because I’m lazy and almost always running behind. But the PAM website recommends a slightly different process, layering the sauce and uncovered pasta a couple times before topping with cheese – basically like lasagna, but with different-shaped pasta.
Here’s the recipe from PAM. And here’s what I do:
Baked Ziti Casserole
1 lb ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 box penne/ziti/mostaciolli
1 16-oz jar spaghetti sauce
1-2 cups shredded mozzarella
Brown the ground beef, season with garlic or whatever else you’d like and add onion. Drain meat then add to sauce. Boil, rinse and drain pasta. Fold pasta into sauce, stir together and pour into two 8×8 pans or one 9×13 pans. (Either way, make sure to spray your pan(s) with PAM!) Cover with cheese (I actually prefer an Italian blend more than mozzarella, but either will work.), and bake at 350 degrees until cheese is melted.
See? SUPER EASY – even down to the cleanup when you are smart enough to spray the pan down with PAM. Like I was. Even though I forgot I was.
As you might have noticed, I make enough pasta for at least two meals. Putting it into two 8×8 dishes makes it convenient for sharing with friends or for freezing for later. Which is exactly what I’m planning to do before this baby gets here – and what I wish I’d done before the busy holiday season got here!
And now for the giveaway!
One lucky reader will win a PAM Cooking Spray prize pack valued at $50 and including a full-size sample of PAM and a gorgeous Le Creuset pie dish. Helloooo, holiday baking! To enter, simply visit PAM’s recipe site and tell me which recipe you’d like to try.
All entrants must be 18 years+ and reside in the continental U.S. A winner will be chosen randomly after the contest closes at midnight on December 11. Complete guidelines for this giveaway may be seen here.
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of PAM Cooking Spray. For more information, visit http://www.pamcookingspray.com.