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Cheesy Baked Ziti

Cheesy Baked Ziti

Serves 8 to 10

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 package Certified Piedmontese beef tenderloin tips
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (28-ounce) can peeled whole tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound ziti or penne pasta
  • 1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 pound ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into discs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or thyme, plus more for serving
  • 2 eggs

To a pot over medium heat, add the olive oil. Add the tenderloin tips, season with salt and pepper, and sear until nicely browned. Remove to a bowl. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook until soft, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another 1 to 2 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, whole tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Return the beef to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water until just barely al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside. Remove 3 to 4 cups of the cooked sauce to a bowl and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, combine half the shredded mozzarella cheese with the ricotta, Parmesan (or Pecorino), parsley, and eggs and stir. Add the cooked and cooled pasta to the cheese mixture and toss gently. Add the cooled reserved sauce and toss to combine.

Add half the pasta mixture to a large casserole dish or lasagna dish. Spoon half the remaining sauce over the top, then top with half the remaining shredded mozzarella. Add a layer of fresh mozzarella slices. Repeat with another layer of the coated pasta and the remaining sauce and mozzarella.

Bake until bubbling, about 20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before sprinkling with chopped fresh thyme or parsley to serve.