For the past 2 years as Team Mom, I’ve fed the high school football team every pre & post game meal. Pre game meals were served in the school’s courtyard pavilion, but all post game meals were served “tailgate style”. Our head coach has always been a bit superstitious … or maybe I should say he likes consistency … so we have always served pasta pre-game & sandwiches post game.. One week a mom volunteered, or should I say dared, to cook her baked ziti for the team instead of having it catered from the usual local restaurant. It was a big hit. And I must admit, it is the very best baked ziti I’ve ever tasted. This easy baked ziti has become my “go-to” recipe when company is coming over. Just like a quarterback feels comfortable throwing to his “go-to” receiver, this ziti will score points when the game is on the line.
I put it to a major test by serving it to Coach Surace during his home visit with us in late November. Must have been the right play to call, because it sealed the deal for a verbal commitment. Oh yes, I’m sure it was the ziti.
It’s best for home cooking, but it worked well bringing to this year’s Orange Bowl tailgate to feed our large group. Just be sure to pack it snuggly & keep warm.
It has a very unique ziti taste that is both sweet and creamy. I believe the provolone cheese and sour cream are the “secret” ingredients. I recommend making this recipe exactly as written (and I don’t say that often)… no substitutions or additions … except feel free to use extra cheese. And it makes a lot. So enjoy it with special friends and family. And consider bringing this untraditional tailgating dish to your next tailgate party.
“SEAL THE DEAL” BAKED ZITI
(Recipe shared by Holly Cannon. From allrecipes.com: Baked Ziti I by Colleen B. Smith)
- 1 pound dry ziti pasta
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 2 (26 ounce) jars spaghetti sauce (I use Rao’s, either Marinara or Tomato Basil, or both)
- 6 ounces provolone cheese, sliced
- 1 1/2 cups sour cream
- 6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add ziti pasta, and cook about 8 minutes; drain.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet, brown onion and ground beef over medium heat. Add spaghetti sauce, and simmer 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a deep 9×13 inch baking dish.
- Layer as follows: 1/2 of the ziti, Provolone cheese, sour cream, 1/2 sauce mixture, then remaining ziti, mozzarella cheese and remaining sauce mixture. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.
- Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheeses are melted.