Baked Ziti is always a great "go to" recipe when you need to feed a crowd. This summer you may find yourself helping out at a family reunion,graduation dinners, a wedding, or fundraiser dinner. This recipe is PERFECT because: 1) Pasta is inexpensive and fills bellies on the cheap! 2) Can be made ahead of time and stored in the freezer! Just pull out to thaw the day before you need it! Spend your day before the big event worrying about other things, not the main dish! 3) Because the pasta is precooked on the big day you are really only heating it through and making it melty and warm, great for working with tempermental rental ovens at churches or venues. Sometimes they don't really work as well with large quantities of food being cooked, so no worries that your main dish is not cooked properly! People can even bring it pre-baked and put in the oven on warm to hold till serving! Just add a tossed salad and some rolls, for an easy,yummy dinner!
This recipe makes 2 (1/2 sized) steamer pans (those are the ones sold in bulk at party stores and warehouse clubs and come in 2 inch or 4 inch depths. I prefer the 4 inch depth so you feel like it's not spilling out cheese over the top. ( I think they are like 12x20x4 inches) And each steamer pan should serve 15-20 main dish or more if it's a side dish. So the total recipe should serve 30-40 people for a dinner.
Baked Ziti For a Crowd
Feeds 30-40 people
12 cups spaghetti sauce (or one #10 sized can : you know the giganto ones at the warehouse clubs!)
3 lbs. ziti or penne pasta
2 (24 oz) containers cottage or ricotta cheese (cottage is cheaper)
1 1/2 cups grated parmesan cheese
3 eggs slightly beaten
1 1 /2 lbs. shredded mozzarella cheese
Cook pasta as package directs, drain and set aside.
In very large mixing bowl, stir together, cottage (or ricotta) cheese, parmesan cheese, and beaten eggs.
Stir in half the spaghetti sauce until well mixed.
Stir in 1/2 the cheese and then all of the pasta, tossing gently to coat.
Divide mixture evenly between the two 1/2 steamer pans.
Pour remaining 1/2 of the spaghetti sauce evenly over the ziti mixture.
Sprinkle remaining mozzarella cheese on top.
To Make ahead and freeze: Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil and freeze. (The plastic wrap will keep the foil from sticking to the pasta while it freezes.)
To Bake: pull the pasta from freezer the night before and let thaw. Remove foil and plastic wrap. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.