Baked Ziti with Chicken

We reimagined this family classic using store-bought rotisserie chicken.

Baked Ziti with Chicken
Photo: Photographer: Will Dickey Prop Stylist: Missie Crawford Food Stylist: Erin Merhar
Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs
Servings:
8

When you're in the market for a comforting weeknight dinner recipe that feeds a hungry family and doesn't require a whole lot of cleanup, baked ziti is about as dependable as it gets. Cheesy, hearty, and customizable for when you want to use store-bought ingredients, the baked pasta casserole can make even leftovers sound exciting. This recipe chooses to forgo the usual ground beef or Italian sausage in favor of something even easier: rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. Simply shred and throw into the dish for a filling protein that tends to appeal to even the pickiest of eaters. While the recipe chooses to use low-prep, store-bought options like rotisserie chicken and pre-shredded cheese, the homemade sauce makes all the difference. Simmering it down into a rich tomato sauce allows insanely savory flavor to be soaked into every noodle when baking later. Trust us on this one—and enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion (from 1 [10-oz.] onion)

  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 3 medium garlic cloves)

  • 1 (28-oz.) can whole peeled plum tomatoes, tomatoes coarsely crushed by hand and juices reserved

  • 2 (14.5-oz.) cans crushed tomatoes, undrained

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • 1 pound uncooked ziti 

  • 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (from 1 rotisserie chicken)

  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil, plus more for garnish

  • Cooking spray

  • 1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese, finely shredded (about 2/3 cup), divided 

  • 8 ounces pre-shredded low-moisture whole-milk mozzarella cheese (about 2 cups), divided

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add plum tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper; bring to a boil over medium. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, stirring occasionally, until flavors meld and sauce thickens, about 30 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add ziti, and boil until just al dente, according to package directions. Drain and return ziti to pot.

  3. Preheat oven to 375°F. Add tomato mixture, shredded chicken, and basil to ziti; stir to coat thoroughly. Pour half of ziti mixture into a 13- x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with 1/3 cup of the Parmesan and 1 cup of the mozzarella. Top with remaining ziti mixture, and sprinkle with remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan and 1 cup mozzarella.

  4. Bake in preheated oven until cheese has melted, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and let rest 10 minutes. Garnish with additional basil before serving.

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