Baked Ziti is basically some kind of tomato sauce usually with meat in my house but you could skip the meat if you must. Add in some kind of cheese and pasta and you have a classic Italian dish. There are variations but that is basically it.
As I read the crock pot recipes I realized they were not that different than the oven recipes except may used uncooked pasta (probably a good idea or you might have mush) and usually had a bit more liquid… help cook the pasta. So I though I would model what I felt was the best and that was a Pioneer Woman recipe for Bake Ziti . It was a bit more lasagna like with ricotta and parmesan cheese in addition to my normal mozzarella. I will never go back.
This is a cut down recipe… used my 3.5 qt crock pot and this is “Cooking For Two” after all. This filled the pot about 75% and that is really the most you should go so do not do in a smaller pot. This would be great to double and would fit in a 6.5 qt but would be marginal in a 6 qt.
Also I used Penne noodles which are “almost” ziti noodles. Close enough…
Start by place 1 pound of ground beef over medium high heat to brown. Then chop 1 small onion and crush 2 cloves of garlic and add while the meat is browning. Cook until no longer pink. About 9-10 minutes.
Mix 1 – 28 oz can crushed tomatoes, 1 1/2 t basil, 1 t salt, 1/2 t pepper. Mix. Now drain the meat of extra fat and combine to make the meat sauce. You can add 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper if you wish. It will not add much heat.
December 5 2013