Baked Ziti from Cook's Illustrated

READY IN: 1hr 20mins
Recipe by mary winecoff

This is the best baked ziti I have ever tried...and I have tried a lot. This is from the March 2009 issue of Cook's Illustrated and has been thoroughly tested by them.

Top Review by Jennacooks

I read this in the original Cook's Illustrated issue but we lost it, so I'm so glad to see the recipe posted here. A few things I'd add: 1) to the people saying that you should substitute ricotta instead of cottage cheese: ricotta is the traditional cheese used for baked ziti, but if you read Cook's Illustrated they made it both ways and found that cottage cheese retained its moisture while ricotta dried out. They substituted cottage cheese instead of ricotta and got better results, so stay with cottage cheese. 2) to save some steps / time: you can use jarred alfredo sauce instead of mixing cream/cornstarch and get the exact same results. In fact, they did it that way in Cook's Illustrated and got the same results as mixing your own cream sauce. They just put mixing your own cream sauce in the final recipe because they wanted it to be all from scratch. So, save yourself some time and effort and use jarred alfredo sauce! 3) this is also great with vodka sauce instead of straight tomato sauce, and I do like to add more cubes of mozzarella. Great, great recipe that really feeds a crowd -- thanks for posting!

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350°F Whisk cottage cheese, eggs and 1 cup Parmesan together in medium bowl; set aside. Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in large Dutch oven over high heat. Stir in 1 Tablespoon salt and pasta; cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta begins to soften but is not yet cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain pasta and leave in colander.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil and garlic in 12 inch skillet over medium heat until garlic is fragrant but not brown. Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and oregano; simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Off heat, stir in 1/2 cup basil and sugar, then season with salt and pepper.
  3. Stir cornstarch into heavy cream in small bowl, transfer mixture to Dutch oven set over medium heat. Bring to simmer and cook until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove pot from heat and add cottage cheese mixture, 1 cup tomato sauce and 3/4 cup mozzarella, then stir to combine. Add pasta and stir to coat.
  4. Transfer pasta mixture to 13 x 9 inch baking dish and spread remaining tomato sauce evenly over pasta. Sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup mozzarella and remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan over top. Cover baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove foil and continue to cook until cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes longer. Cool for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 3 Tablespoons basil and serve.

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