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Mom’s Baked Ziti

This dish is the taste of my childhood. I still request it whenever I visit my hometown. We aren’t Italian but my mom is known as the ziti queen throughout our extended family. In recent years my husband has become a vegetarian so my mom has taken to adding all kinds of veggies to the ziti. It’s particularly good with either chopped spinach or finely chopped broccoli. A great way to sneak in additional veggies in my kid’s life. We went for the “classic” recipe this go round.

Prep Time: 15 mins  Cooking Time: 30 to 40 mins

1 box penne or ziti
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large jar good canned tomato sauce
2 pressed garlic cloves
1 15 oz container of part skim ricotta
1 egg
1 8oz package part skim mozzarella (diced)
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley

Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Cook penne in large pot of  boiling water with oil for 6 minutes (will be very al dente) drain and set aside. Crack egg in a large bowl and beat lightly. Add ricotta, tomato sauce, garlic, oregano, parsley and diced mozzarella. Mix in penne and pour into 9×13 baking dish. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top until completely covered. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Tastes even better the next day.

I loved sitting down with friends to eat a piece of my childhood. My kid asked for 2 helpings of the ziti at dinner. Later, when I was tucking him into bed he asked if he could please please please have one more taste before he went to sleep. Thanks, mom!

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