Baked Spinach and Meat Ziti

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Baked Spinach and Meat Ziti
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender yet firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.

  3. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir ground beef, onion, and 1/2 of the garlic in the hot skillet until beef is until browned and onion is wilted, 5 to 7 minutes. Add spaghetti sauce and simmer for 15 minutes.

  4. While the meat sauce is simmering, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add remaining garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add spinach and cook, tossing occasionally, until wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.

  5. Mix ricotta cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, and wilted spinach in a bowl. Season with salt.

  6. Place 1/2 of the ziti in the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish and layer with 1/2 of the meat sauce. Spread provolone cheese on top to form a flat surface. Spread spinach mixture over top, then cover with remaining ziti and meat sauce. Top with 2 tablespoons Parmesan and sprinkle mozzarella over top.

  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let firm up for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Cook’s Notes:

If you have homemade spaghetti sauce, use it by all means! Also, if you are using store-bought, use any sauce that does not use high fructose corn syrup! I use Francesco Rinaldi(R) Traditional.

If you add 1 beaten egg to the spinach-cheese mixture, it can be used to make stuffed shells. (You may wish to double it and add 2 eggs.)
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