The original recipe came from Southern Living's Dinner in a Dish. It calls for a whole pound of pasta, and everything is baked in a 9-x13-inch pan (resulting in 8-10 servings). I cut the amount of pasta in half, and baked all in a 7-x9-inch glass casserole dish. So if you prefer more pasta than sauce, go the way of Southern Living. My desired pasta-to-sauce ratio will always be heavy on the sauce side.
I'm not a big fan of grocery store Alfredo sauce. Maybe I just haven't tasted the right brand. Who knows? Well, I may never know since I found Dawn's recipe for Quick and Easy Alfredo Sauce. It is scrumptious. And easy. (I don't do anything "quick" in the kitchen, so can't vouch for that.) Dawn says, "The secret is cream cheese!" -- I believe her.
A pot of water takes absolutely forever to boil on top of my RV gas stove, so I try to get that started first thing. Then I make the Alfredo sauce. After those two are done, I make the other filling and transfer all to the casserole dish. Bake until things are bubbly and starting to brown on top. Serve with a side salad and a thick slice of French or garlic (or both!) bread, and you have a satisfying meatless meal.
For the Alfredo sauce: Melt a stick of butter (8 tablespoons) in a medium, non-stick saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese and 2 teaspoons garlic powder, stirring with wire whisk until smooth. Add 2 cups milk, a little at a time, whisking to smooth out lumps. Stir in 3/4 cup grated Parmesan (I use the kind often found on the pasta aisle) and 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (I eyeball it; probably use more). Remove from heat when sauce reaches desired consistency (I usually let it thicken a bit). Try not to drink it.
Three-Cheese Baked Ziti
Adapted from "Three-Cheese Baked Pasta" in Southern Living's Dinner in a Dish.
- 8 oz dried ziti pasta (penne or rigatoni could also be used)
- a batch of Dawn's Quick and Easy Alfredo Sauce (recipe above or here)
- 4 oz sour cream
- 8 oz ricotta cheese
- 1 lg egg, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/8 cup dried parsley
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to pot.
- Stir sour cream into Alfredo sauce. Toss with pasta. Spoon half of pasta mixture into a lightly buttered 7-x9-inch casserole dish.
- Stir together ricotta cheese, beaten egg, grated Parmesan, and parsley. Spread evenly over pasta mixture in casserole dish.
- Spoon remaining pasta evenly over ricotta cheese layer. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until set, bubbly, and starting to brown.
Yield: about 6 servings
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