Baked Ziti With Mini Meatballs

I have a special place in my heart for baked ziti. It was my favorite dishes to get as a child and I still remember going to Sabarro's as a kid to get a plate for dinner.  I haven't had Sabarro's in years, but have created the recipe at home in the past.  The other day I was hungry for ziti and came across this recipe from Gonna Want Seconds.  It sounded so good! I loved the use of three cheeses and fresh herbs.  The recipe takes a little time because of the meatballs, but I assure you it is worth the extra steps because it is absolutely delicious!  I love baked pastas because they are so homey and delicious, but they also make great lunch leftovers- when you have two busy adults and a toddler this is important. 

The meal is pretty heavy and I don't see it coming on the menu often in the summer months, but it is perfect for a drizzly day or for a crowd. 


1/8 cup olive oil
1/4 Cup bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
2 Tbl milk
3/4 cup grated Romano cheese
1/4 cup flat leaf parsely, choped
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 lb lean ground beef
1/4 - 1/2 cup flour, for dredging
1 lb ziti pasta
2/3 cup fresh basil, julienned
5 cups marinara sauce
3 cups whole milk ricotta
2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Parmesan


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

 In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs, eggs, milk, 1/2 cup of the Romano and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Add beef and gently combine, being careful not to overwork the meat. Shape into bite-size meatballs. Roll each meatball in flour to coat.

 In a large pot, pasta cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain pasta in a colander and set aside. Do not rinse pasta with water.

 In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add meatballs in batches, turning after 3 minutes. Continue to cook until all sides are golden brown.  Remove meatballs to a plate.

 In a large bowl, combine the Marinara sauce and ricotta and mix well. Add the cooked ziti , fresh basil and meatballs and mix gently.

 In a large greased baking dish  pour in pasta mixture. Sprinkle the mozzarella, Parmesan, and remaining Romano over the top.  Bake until top is golden brown and bubbly, about  40-45 minutes.

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