This baked ziti recipe is rich, hearty, and loaded with cheese and beef. It has more steps than most of our recipes, but it's absolutely worth the effort and time. Nothing is overly complicated as long as you have a bit of time to spend in the kitchen.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick spray.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season with salt. Boil the pasta for 3 minutes less than the package directs.
While the pasta boils, brown the ground beef in a medium skillet. Drain the fat. Stir in the marinara sauce and warm through over medium heat.
In a small pot melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Cook until hot and bubbly. Whisk in the milk and cream and cook 5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened to a gravy consistency. Stir in the pepper and nutmeg.
In a medium bowl mix together the ricotta, egg, Parmesan cheese, and 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning.
Spread 1/4 cup of the meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.
Pour in half of the ziti and spread it out. Pour on half of the meat sauce and spread it over the ziti. Spread half of the bechamel over the meat sauce.
Drop dollops of the ricotta mixture over the meat sauce and then sprinkle with half of the mozzarella.
Repeat the layers of ziti and meat sauce. Pour the remaining bechamel evenly over the top. Place the remaining cheese on top and sprinkle with the 1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning.
Bake covered for 30 minutes.
Remove the cover and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
Let set for 10 minutes before serving.
To save time, you can swap the béchamel sauce for a jar of Alfredo sauce.