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This is one of those recipes my family can never get enough. I remember my youngest daughter when she was about three, holding out her plate with a huge smile and asking in a sweet little voice, “More yummy noodles, Mommy?”
Always such a pleasure when the kiddos enjoy an easy meal the grown-up folks love, too.
This recipe is reprinted with permission from my book, Frozen Assets: Cook for a Day, Eat for a Month (SourceBooks).
Debi’s Baked Ziti (serves 18)
- 3 pounds dry ziti or penne pasta
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 pound ground beef (optional for vegetarian option)
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup chopped green pepper
- 2 jars commercial spaghetti sauce (or 6 cups homemade)
- 3 cups grated mozzarella cheese
- 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (to be used at serving time–not during initial prep)
Cook pasta until just barely tender; drain thoroughly, and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Heat the oil in a stockpot over medium heat, and brown the ground beef (cook thoroughly until no pink remains), if using; drain off most of the fat. Add the onion and green pepper, and saute until the vegetables soften. Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil when sauteing, if needed. Stir in spaghetti sauce. Add the cooked pasta, mixing well. Divide the mixture into three 1-gallon sized freezer bags; label each. Divide the grated mozzarella cheese into three quart-sized freezer bags; attach to the pasta bags. Freeze.
Thaw the frozen meal in the refrigerator at least 24 hours before serving. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. To serve, spread the pasta into a 9×13-inch baking pan. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese evenly over the pasta. Sprinkle 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese over top. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes, or until bubbly on the edges and hot in the middle. Remove the foil, and bake 5 more miniutes.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Deborah Taylor-Hough is the author of a number of popular books including the bestselling Frozen Assets cookbook series, Frugal Living for Dummies®, and A Simple Choice: A practical guide for saving your time, money and sanity. She also edits the Simple Times email newsletter. To visit Debi online, go to: www.SimpleMom.com
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