Thanksgiving Baked Ziti

Yes, there is such a thing. If you’re looking to serve a pasta dish to get the Holiday kicked off this year, make my Baked ziti, your guests will love it. Serve it immediately or make it ahead. I am all about taking the stress out of the kitchen and this recipe does just that.

You’ll need:

  • 1-lb ziti
  • 1-lb mozzarella you shred
  • 3/4-cup grated pecorino romano cheese, you grate
  • 2-28 oz cans of whole Italian plum tomatoes you crush by hand
  • 2-lb of ricotta cheese, liquid drained
  • 1-tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2-garlic cloves sliced
  • 2-tbs olive oil
  • 2-tbs butter


  1. In a large pot add the olive oil, garlic, onion, salt and put the heat on medium.
  2. Once the onion is translucent add the crushed tomatoes. Allow this to come to a boil and then lower the heat to allow it to cook for 30 minutes on a low boil, uncovered.
  3. Stir several times. Remove from the heat, stir in the butter and let this cool.
  4. Reserve 1/2 cup of the mozzarella, 1-cup of ricotta, 1/4 cup of the Romano cheese and 2-cups of the sauce
  5. Now add the balance of the ricotta cheese, Romano cheese, shredded mozzarella cheese, and sauce in a large bowl and stir this all together.
  6. Cook your ziti halfway of the recommended time.
  7. Strain and add it to the bowl of cheese and sauce and fold it all together.
  8. Spread 1-cup of the reserved sauce in the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ baking pan.
  9. Put the pasta in the baking dish. Top with remaining sauce, Romano, mozzarella, and ricotta
  10. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30-45 minutes! You’ll see the sides bubbling then remove it.

Note: Draining the Ricotta is critical in making a non-watery ziti. Empty the ricotta into a strainer lined with cheesecloth and place the strainer over a large bowl. Cover the top with plastic wrap and allow this to drain for 24 hours in the fridge. Press any remaining liquid out of the ricotta.

For a very festive baked ziti, top with sliced Mama Mancini’s meatballs.

Happy Thanksgiving,
Daniel Mancini