Extra easy baked ziti made entirely from scratch! Our favorite baked ziti recipe is creamy and cheesy with a mixture of pasta, a five minute homemade sauce and four cheeses.
1 pound dried pasta like ziti, penne or rigatoni
1 (28 ounce) can San Marzano whole tomatoes
1 cup (20 grams) fresh basil leaves or 3 tablespoons dried basil
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced (1 tablespoon)
1/2 cup (4 ounces) mascarpone cheese or use whole milk ricotta
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 1/2 ounces (1 1/2 cups) shredded mozzarella cheese
4 1/2 ounces (1 1/2 cups) shredded Fontina cheese
2 1/4 ounces (3/4 cup) shredded Pecorino Romano cheese
Combine canned tomatoes and their juices, basil, garlic, salt, pepper and the mascarpone cheese in a blender or food processor. (A food mill will also work.) Blend until the basil and garlic are chopped into tiny bits and the sauce is well mixed. Taste and adjust with additional salt as needed. Set aside.
Heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (if your oven runs hot, reduce this to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.)
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, add the pasta, and then cook for about half of the recommended cook time on the package (5 or 6 minutes). Save 1/2 cup of the pasta water, drain the pasta, and then place it back into the pot. Undercooking the pasta makes sure that it does not overcook when baked with the sauce in the oven.
In a medium bowl, toss the mozzarella, Fontina and Pecorino Romano cheese together.
Add the sauce, 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water and three-quarters of the shredded cheese mix to the pot with pasta. Stir well. The mixture should look a bit thin, if it seems thick, add a splash more of the reserved pasta water.
Transfer the ziti mixture to a large baking dish and top with the remaining shredded cheese mix. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted and golden brown on top. Allow the baked ziti to cool for 5 minutes before serving.