My community is giving my family security, comfort, and joy. I am grateful and I am trying to give back. Recently I was able to give back to my Texas community by making a casserole to be served at the reception after my co-worker's mother's funeral. It was so sad that a life was lost, but it was so inspiring to arrive at church and see people sacrificing their Saturday afternoon to set up the buffet line, deliver casseroles and desserts, and serve food.
Food is an expression of love and it is one that we can freely give to families when they are in need. I was able to communicate this message to my children as I prepared the casserole. They asked me what I was cooking. I told them I was making two pans of baked ziti, one for our family and one to share at a funeral. This provided an opening for us to discuss death, funeral, and ways to support people who are sad and grieving.
I have made baked ziti many times in my life, but my family and I agree that this is the best. This recipe which was given to me by a co-worker contains a combination of provolone and mozzarella cheese slices that are layered with ziti noodles, sour cream, and a meat sauce. It can be made ahead of time and then cooked right before a meal. It tastes great freshly baked and can be warmed up for the next day. I think it's the perfect dish to prepare over the weekend and then store in the fridge to be baked for dinner on a busy weeknight. I also think it's the ideal dish to share with someone in your community.
Baked Ziti Recipe
1 (16 ounce) package ziti pasta or other tubular pasta
1 pound lean ground beef
1 onion, finely chopped
2 (28 ounce) jars spaghetti sauce - I used less because my kids like to see their pasta.
6 ounces sliced provolone cheese
6 ounces sliced mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil - optional
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes; drain.
- In a large skillet, saute onions until tender. Add ground beef and brown over medium heat. Drain off fat. Add spaghetti sauce. Simmer sauce for about 15 minutes.
- In a lightly greased 9 x 13 baking dish, place about half of the pasta; top with a layer of provolone and mozzarella cheese slices. Spread on a layer of half the spaghetti sauce mixture and all the sour cream.
- Cover with remaining pasta, cheese slices and sauce; sprinkle a layer of parmesan cheese and fresh basil (optional). Your baking dish will be very full. You may want to use a foil baking dish that is deep and can be thrown away if you are making this to share.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until cheese is melted and slightly browned and edges are bubbly.