Crock pot meals are perfect for busy days... and also for parties... yes.. parties. What better way to serve many main dishes... they cook by themselves and stay hot while serving... who could ask for more.
I've done my share of experimenting and believe me Warren gets the good the bad and the ugly... luckily this was one of the good ones!
Be sure to spray the inside with cooking oil spray so it doesn't stick to the sides.
I run a knife around the sides about halfway through the cooking time to loosen the casserole away from the sides.
This can be made meatless or with meat.... I like to freeze meatballs when I make them (fully cooked). Lay them on a baking sheet and freeze them for about 20 minutes or so.. then put them in a freezer bag. When I need them for a quick meal or a recipe like this or pizza.. I just take out how ever much I want and defrost it. You can do the same with cooked Italian sausage.
If you do use meat.. figure on using additional spaghetti sauce .. mix sauce with the cooked meat .. enough to make it saucy throughout the meat.
Click here for a great meatball recipe.
Don't overcook this, otherwise the macaroni will be mushy.
You do not cook the macaroni first.. just mix it with the sauce and layer it in the crock pot... now how easy is that?
You will need at least one and a half jars of 48 ounce size jars or about 72 ounces of sauce (or homemade equivalent) ... if you like your Baked Ziti saucy.. figure on extra sauce to add in.
Thick shredded mozzarella (like the pizza parlors use).. works best for this. If you like it cheesier.. by all means.. add more.
I hope you try this.. it's so easy to make and so very good!
Recipe: Crock Pot Baked Ziti
All you need:
1 pound uncooked ziti
About 72 ounces pasta sauce (homemade or store bought)
1 container (15 oz.) part-skim ricotta cheese1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup fresh chopped parsley
2 teaspoons garlic powder
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
Cooked meatballs, cut up *See Tips
Olive oil cooking oil spray
All you need to do:
Spray the inside of the crockpot with cooking oil spray.
In a medium bowl mix together the ricotta, Parmesan cheese, egg, chopped parsley, garlic
powder and salt.
Spoon several ladles of sauce on the bottom of the crockpot.
Reserve about a cup of sauce.
In a large bowl mix together the uncooked pasta and the remaining sauce.
Put a third of the ziti in the crockpot, then a third of the cheese mixture, then a third of the meat (if adding meat). Repeat until all is layered.
Spoon the 1 cup of sauce on the very top. Put the lid on and cook on LOW for 4 hours. Half way through cooking run a knife around the sides.
After cooking for 4 hours, sprinkle the mozzarella over the top and put the lid back on loosely. Cook for about 20-30 minutes or until cheese has melted.
DO NOT COOK ON HIGH OR OVERCOOK.