Saturday, October 20, 2012

Baked Ziti for a Crowd


We recently hosted our largest crowd ever in our new home - about 30 people!  I didn't know how many people to expect that day, but I knew it would be a lot.  I wanted to be sure we had plenty of food for everyone.  We were also leaving for a big camping trip the next day, so I wanted to keep things as simple as possible!  (Hence the boxed brownie mixes!)  Things worked out so well, I wanted to record what I did for future gatherings.  If you haven't made baked ziti before, think lasagne, just 4x easier to prepare.

Baked Ziti for a Crowd
 In bowl #1 mix:
  •  2 lbs. cooked and drained ziti
  • 6 c. pasta sauce (homemade from 2, 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes)
  • 2 lbs. of ground Italian Sausage (optional)
 In bowl #2 mix:
  • 2 lbs. ricotta cheese
  • 2 c. mozzarella cheese, grated
  • fresh basil to taste (I used several Tbs. from my plant)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 c. grated parmesan 
**You will also need another 4 c. mozzarella.

Layer in this way in an extra large disposable pasta pan:  1/2 of the ziti mixture goes in the bottom.  Cover with all of the ricotta cheese mixture.  Put the remaining half of the ziti mixture on top of that, top with the 4 c. of mozzarella and cover with foil.  Bake in a 350* oven for 30 minutes, removing the foil during the last 10 minutes to let the cheese get a little brown and bubbly.

(I think my large roasting pan might also work well,  I'll try that next time.)

For our gathering, I served - 
  • this recipe for baked ziti that serves 24
  • a crock pot full of dairy free/gluten free meatballs in sauce
  • I also cooked 3 pounds of whole wheat linguine and some gluten free pasta, but I think next time I will only cook one pound.  There was TONS leftover!
  • 1 lb. of salad greens loaded up with yummy chopped veggies
  • for dessert, I prepared 15x10" pan of brownies, thawed a bag of frozen raspberries, and served a quart of vanilla ice cream.  

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21 comments:

  1. Yummy, I think I will make that next time I cook dinner for Wed night church services(we have a pre-service dinner Wed nights) Pasta really seems to be the easiest way to feed a crowd!

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  2. I may try this one soon! Wanting to have a small dinner for those from out of town! :0)

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  3. Thanks for stopping by Shannon! I hope everyone enjoys it!

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  4. I haven't done bake Ziit, but we feed big crowds quite often around here, every other tuesday we have between 10-20 people over for dinner and a study, where I typically do the mains, so it's always to have big crowd feeder recipes, I should start putting some of the ones I use online, good idea, and thanks for the idea think I will try this on Sunday we have 3 families of 5 coming for lunch after church.

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  5. That sounds like a great meal. I often turn to a baked pasta dish when I have to cater for a crowd. It seems to please all ages, can be prepared in advance, and doesn't create too many dishes to wash afterwards!

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  6. Can you make the ziti ahead and store in the refrigerator in a foil pan using plastic wrap? I heard that tomato sauce will turn if stored this way. I am making this recipe for a large crowd and I wanted to make it ahead of time and bake the next day.

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    1. Tracy, I'm sorry I didn't see this sooner. I made my ziti the day before just as your described and it tasted great! No problems with the tomato sauce. Hope it works out for you!

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  7. Also wondering what temperature you cooked it at.

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  8. Probably 350*. I'll update the recipe. Thank you!

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  9. What did you make tomato sauce with?

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  10. I want to make this for a baby shower..but I'm thinking of making it in two large foil disposable dishes (Instead of one extra large). Would I cook them for longer than 30 mins? Also, I will know when it's done when cheese is bubbly and melted correct?

    Sorry, first time making baked ziti ahhh! haha

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  11. Did you ever make this using your roaster? I am going to try that tomorrow and could use some pointers!

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    1. Katie - how did the roaster work for you?
      Would you recommend it?

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  12. My sister gave me an easy recipe for lasagna. Make you homemade pasta sauce as you normally would and the yummy ricotta cheese mixture. Then using UNCOOKED lasagna noodles layer as normal except add extra sauce Cover with foil and bake as normal by using extra sauce the noodles will soften and soak up the extra liquid. The last few minutes uncover and allow the cheese to get brown and bubbly when done let it rest before cutting and serving. Making it this way saves time and the lasagna won't be runny or watery. And you'll want to make it more often

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  13. I will make this in the roaster and a day before.

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  14. Is that 2lbs cooked or uncooked. ?

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    1. I had the same question. Since most people don't weigh pasta after it's cooked I assume she means 2 lbs of pasta dry. But you never know! My party is 6/3/17 so it would be great if she saw this now :)

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  15. Do you know if you could make this ahead of time and freeze it?

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    1. I have made it ahead and frozen it with great results! Disposable pan and all. The one suggestion I have is that the noodles did tend to absorb all the sauce, so I had some extra that I put on top after it had cooked a little to keep it from seeming dry. I have cooked this dish both after thawing it and popping it in the oven completely frozen- both worked great! Of course, you will need extra cooking time if it is frozen when you begin cooking it.

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  16. This is one of the best ziti recipes I've used and I've cooked for more than 40 years. :-) I use this for big family gatherings and halve the recipe because it makes plenty. I think what's so good is that ricotta filling in there. The only difference is that I add a couple of eggs like I would in a manicotti filling. It's yummy and thank you so much for sharing it. Don't change this page as it's a permanent bookmark for me :-)

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