Is there anything better than garden tomatoes and fresh basil? In our house my husband is an “Italian food man” and he has trained us all that those two items should be treated with great respect. One of our favorite snacks is fresh mozzarella, fresh basil and a thick slice of a garden tomato. (don’t forget to salt it!) YUM. Oh, how I want some right now.
Since the little kiddos think that combination is a little too much like “salad” I decided to make it into a pasta dish. Let’s just say this was a BIG hit. Believe it or not, I have never made a baked ziti pasta before this week. When I had my baby a little over 1 year ago my sweet friends brought us dinner this very dinner, baked ziti. Let’s just say I have been dreaming of it since. With my basil plants growing out of control and some frozen garden tomatoes in my freezer, I had this bright idea to recreate this amazing dish.
Since I ended up using 1 large gallon size bag of garden tomatoes, I’m not sure exactly how much I used. So, I will tell you the approximate amount using canned tomatoes.
- 1-16 oz. Ziti pasta noodles
- 2-4 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- parsley for garnish
- 4-5 cans of diced tomatoes
- (*I used 1 large gallon size frozen garden tomatoes and 3 cans of diced tomatoes)
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
- 1 cup fresh basil, torn (or 3 Tablespoons dried)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 Tablespoons minced onion (*I used dry minced onions)
- In medium sauce pan add olive oil on medium heat. Add the minced onions, stir until warmed. Add the garlic, diced tomatoes, sugar, salt and pepper. Allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes. Once sauce is combined but still runny add the fresh basil and Italian seasoning. Remove from heat.
- Cook noodles as directions suggest, except under cook them by 5 minutes because they will continue to cook in the oven. (You will not want "soggy" noodles!) Once they have been cooked, add about 1 cup of noodles in a deep casserole dish. Add a layer of mozzarella cheese and a small scoop of sauce. Continue to layer accordingly until you use all ingredients. Once the dish is filled pile tons of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese on top. Add parsley for garnish. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 15-25 minutes uncovered until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve with homemade french bread and your family will love you forever!