I love September so much, you guys. I know I'm not alone in this. It's just such a magical month, a time of fall decorations and sleeping with the windows open and the return of hearty, rich dinners like this baked ziti.
Unlike most baked zitis, this one doesn't use ricotta cheese. Instead, it uses a combination of sour cream and cream cheese. It's not traditional by any means, but it's so delicious that I highly doubt you'll mind that in the least. The sour cream and cream cheese together make the ziti so creamy and provide such a tangy, irresistible flavor. It's a creamy, cheesy delight, and I think you should definitely make it for dinner this weekend.
Creamy Baked Ziti
adapted from mocha me
1 pound dry ziti pasta
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound lean ground beef or Italian sausage
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
2 26-ounce jars of your favorite spaghetti sauce
8 ounces sliced provolone cheese
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese, divided
1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti pasta and cook according to package directions; drain and return to pot. Add butter and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese and stir to combine.
2. In a large skillet, brown the onion and ground beef or sausage over medium heat. Drain excess fat. Add garlic; cook and stir for 30 seconds. Add spaghetti sauce and simmer until slightly thickened. Taste for seasoning and season with salt and pepper (and any additional seasonings you like).
3. Stir together cream cheese and sour cream in a small bowl.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Add about 1 cup of the sauce to the bottom of the dish and spread evenly. Layer as follows: half of the ziti, the provolone cheese, the sour cream/cream cheese mixture, half of the sauce mixture, remaining ziti, mozzarella cheese and remaining sauce mixture. Top with remaining 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.
5. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes in preheated oven on top of baking sheet. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes.