Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Skillet Baked Ziti

A few weeks ago I woke up and got ready to go to work like any other day.

I went to grab an english muffin out of the freezer to defrost and toast and realized EVERYTHING was melting.


So I quickly moved everything to a cooler and waited for the repair man. 

As I was cleaning out the freezer I decided to defrost some ground beef that had been in there. I didn't feel like making meatballs so I decided on a baked ziti.

In my cast iron skillet. Yay :)


  • 1lb penne pasta
  • 1lb ground beef
  • 1 small shallot, diced
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 28oz can of San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh minced basil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 15oz container skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, plus more for topping
  • 1/2 of lemon, for juice and zest

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season with salt. Cook penne pasta for 6-7 minutes or until it is slightly under al dente.

In the meantime...

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the minced shallot and cook for a minute or two. 

Add the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Add the ground beef. Break up with a wooden spoon while cooking until browned.

Add the canned tomatoes, basil, crushed red pepper and cinnamon. Let simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Use the wooden spoon to gently break up the tomatoes as the sauce simmers. Season with salt and pepper.

While your sauce is simmering combine your ricotta, beaten egg, mozzarella cheese, lemon juice and zest from 1/2 of lemon. Season with salt and pepper. Comine with a fork until all mixed together. 

Grab a cast iron skillet (or a regular casserole dish will work great!). Layer the bottom of the skillet with a small ladle of sauce. Put a few dollops of the ricotta mixture over the sauce.

Add the cooked pasta to the rest of the sauce and mix well.

Layer the pasta/sauce mixture and more dollops of ricotta in the skillet. Top with extra shredded mozzarella cheese.

Cover loosely with tin foil and bake for 20 minutes at 350 F.

Remove tin foil and continue to bake for another 10 minutes. 

You will now be able to feed an entire army and STILL have leftovers.

I took over half of what I made and froze it. This dish freezes really well and when you want to have it again you can defrost or pop in the oven!


  1. looks so good! I've got a pound of beef in the freezer and this looks like just the thing to make it with.