I have been making this dish for years. It has many different incarnations- endless possibilities.
Ricotta and mozzarella is one classic combo I can’t get enough of. I even use smoked mozz for the top layer once. That was decadent.
I highly recommend full fat cheeses for this and other casseroles. My mom always says in the kitchen, “if you’re going to do it then you might as well do it.” Have you ever had low fat ricotta? My Italian blood cringes at the thought.
The pictures on this post are a unique version of the dish:
-alfredo instead of tomato sauce
-leftover chicken instead of ground meat or veggies
-I don’t know if you can tell from the pictures but I used a mix of brown rice pasta and wheat pasta.
These differences show that you can apply the layering casserole technique to all sorts of flavors and get a tasty result.
It’s a “do as I say and as I do” situation.
If you haven’t used it before, brown rice pasta is worth a try- since there’s no gluten then I can eat more, right?
Another tip- try this dish with my homemade marinara sauce.
Play around with the meat/veggie combinations to keep this oldy-but-goody feeling fresh. Just be sure that everything is cooked before adding it to this dish. The time in the oven is to melt the cheese and combine all the yummy goodness together.
Whatever you end up choosing: chicken alfredo, spinach and sausage, caramelized onion and ground turkey- this dish comes out of the oven all gooey and impressive.
Just remember to let it cool for 10 min so it’s not soup. The waiting can be torture so I reset the timer for 10 min and walk away so I don’t cave.
Or, take pictures of it while it cools as shown here from a different day than the above pictures:
- 1 jar tomato sauce
- 16 oz cooked short tube pasta (ziti or penne, brown rice or wheat)
- .5lb ground meat, browned
- 12oz tub of ricotta
- 16oz shredded mozzarella
- optional: ½ cup veggies ie frozen/cooked spinach, onion. other cooked meat ie bacon, sausage
- spray baking dish(es) lightly with cooking spray.
- use either 2 8x8 or 1 13X9.
- layer in the pan:
- one third sauce
- half of the pasta
- half of mozzarella
- all of the ricotta
- all meat/veg options (approx. 1-2 C total of filling)
- one third sauce
- remaining pasta
- remaining sauce
- remaining mozzarella
- option: sprinkle with grated parmesan
- bake now: place in 350 degree oven for 30 min until top cheese is golden and bubbling. let sit outside of oven for at least 10 min before serving.
- bake later: cover with cling wrap then tin foil. Date and label with baking instructions. Place in fridge for a week or in the freezer for at least 3 months. If frozen, let thaw in fridge for at least 24 hours prior to baking. Take dish out of fridge while preheating the oven.