Burrata Baked Ziti is exactly what it sounds like. Baked pasta filled with gooey burrata cheese, garlicky tomato sauce, crispy pancetta, hot and sweet sausage, and lots of fresh basil. It’s everything you want in a baked pasta – creamy, cheesy, savory, comforting, and filled with all the best flavors. Perfect for cozy date-nights in, dinner guests, or when you just want to treat yourself to some really incredible comfort food!
Baked ziti is one of those nostalgic meals for me, for so many reasons. Growing up, we always went to my uncle’s house on Christmas Eve, and he’d always have the best spread: pans and pans of baked ziti filled with pepperoni, baskets of fried chicken, and tons of Old Bay steamed shrimp. Quite the mix I know, but quite honestly some of my favorite things and best memories. On another nostalgic note, my dad always talks about my grandma’s (who I was never lucky enough to meet) baked ziti and how amazing it was. I SO wish I could try it. So in honor of wrapping up Pasta Week, I’m sharing my baked ziti, exactly how I make it and the classic way I enjoy it most.
There’s not much in this world better than a huge pan of baked pasta, oozing with cheese and adorned with crispy edges (the BEST part, right?!). In this case, I decided to use one of the best cheeses known to man: burrata. Although I’m usually a proponent of leaving burrata in it’s natural state, (because how could it be improved upon?!) in this case, it serves as the glue for this incredible pasta dish. It adds so much melty creaminess that regular ‘ol mozzarella could never do.
And, to make things even more *extra*, I decided to garnish the pasta with a few (generous) hunks of fresh burrata to swirl into the melty ziti goodness.
Honestly, how could I not?!
This whole ziti situation starts off with a really simple sauce. Crushed tomatoes, pancetta, hot AND sweet sausage, onion, garlic, spices, tons of fresh basil, and my secret ingredient to add a little depth to the sauce – balsamic vinegar!
The pancetta and two types of sausages add richness and depth, while the balsamic vinegar cuts that richness and adds a little more depth in its own way.
There are so many layers of flavors going on here, and they just get better and better once the pasta spends some time in the oven!
And then, as if it couldn’t get any better, we stir some torn burrata and parmesan into this mess.
I know that you’ll just want to stop right there and eat the ziti this way, but trust me when I say something magical happens in the oven. It’s kind of incredible.
I also feel like baked pastas are kind of the last type of pasta I usually gravitate towards? I’m not sure why, because they’re SO good. This one is making me fall in love with them all over again.
Also, before I go any further – if you’re like “what the heck is burrata?” – let me tell you. Burrata is basically the holy grail of all mozzarella varieties. It’s a soft, cream-filled mozzarella, that looks like a ball of fresh mozzarella from the outside, but when you break it open, it’s filled with the most delectable, oozy, creamy goodness. The inside is kind of reminiscent of a softer, more moist ricotta? If that makes any sense. It’s pure magic. And you need it in your life if you’ve never tried it – like ASAP!
For whatever reason, I feel like people associate baked pasta with being a lot of work. That is so not the case. This couldn’t be simpler in method, and in ingredients. It’s a win all around!
Here’s how you make this baked ziti goodness:
- Start off by rendering the pancetta and getting it all nice and golden and crispy – this serves as the basis for the sauce, and the pancetta fat is what we end up sautéing everything in! Set the pancetta aside to drain while we make the rest of the sauce.
- Add + render your sausage – I like to use a mixture of sweet Italian and hot Italian bulk sausage. The best of both worlds!
- Add your onion and garlic and sauté for a few minutes to develop the flavor.
- Last but not least, add your crushed tomatoes, spices, balsamic (the secret ingredient!), and the pancetta back into the pot. Let it simmer for 10 minutes or so, and add a bunch of fresh basil!
- If your skillet is big enough and oven-safe, add your ziti (cooked to just shy of al dente), burrata, and parm and stir to combine! If you need to, transfer everything to a larger oven-safe baking dish!
- To finish, top the ziti with an additional 8 ounces of burrata, and more parmesan cheese. Bake it for 25-30 minutes, then broil for a few extra minutes to get everything nice and golden & crispy!
- Garnish with basil, and serve it up with extra fresh burrata (the best part!), parm, and a tiny drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Pure heaven.
You can also use whatever your favorite short-cut pasta is. Penne, mostaccioli, or rigatoni would all be wonderful here.
You can’t go wrong with a classic baked pasta, especially baked ziti. And whatever you do, don’t skimp on the extra burrata on top!
This entire week full of pasta has been SO much fun. If you missed the last two pastas I shared this week, be sure to check them out!
Don’t forget to share a photo on Instagram and tag me @spicesinmydna if you make this recipe! Nothing makes me happier than seeing what you create in the kitchen!
Burrata Baked Ziti
Burrata Baked Ziti is exactly what it sounds like. Baked pasta filled with gooey burrata cheese, garlicky tomato sauce, crispy pancetta, hot and sweet sausage, and lots of fresh basil. It's everything you want in a baked pasta - creamy, cheesy, savory, comforting, and filled with all the best flavors. Perfect for cozy date-nights in, dinner guests, or when you just want to treat yourself to some really incredible comfort food!
- 1 pound ziti, or other short-cut pasta
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
- 4 ounces pancetta, finely chopped
- 1/2 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage*
- 1/2 pound bulk hot Italian sausage*
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 of a small yellow onion, chopped
- 2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- large handful (about 1/2 cup) fresh basil, torn, plus extra for serving
- 24 ounces burrata, divided (three 8-ounce containers)
- 1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese, divided, plus extra for serving
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Cook ziti until just a minute or so shy of al dente (it will continue to cook in the oven!). Drain and toss with a tiny bit of olive oil.
Heat olive oil in a large, oven-safe, deep skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Once hot, add the pancetta and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently, or until golden brown and crispy. Remove from pan and let drain on paper towels, discarding any large, super fatty pieces.
Add both sausages, breaking apart with a spatula into small pieces, and cook for 6-7 minutes, until browned and cooked through. Add the garlic and onion, and sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, watching so that the garlic doesn't burn.
Add the tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, oregano, basil, thyme, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper and stir to combine. Add the pancetta back into the pot and stir. Bring to a rapid simmer, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper if desired.
Add the basil and stir to combine. At this point, transfer sauce to a larger oven-safe baking dish or casserole if your skillet isn't large enough! Add the ziti, 8 ounces of the burrata, torn into pieces, and 1/2 cup of the parmesan and stir to combine. Spread ziti evenly into the skillet/casserole dish. Top the ziti with another 8 ounces of torn burrata and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of parmesan.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until edges are golden brown and cheese is bubbly. Remove from oven and set your oven to broil. Broil the pasta for an addtional 2 minutes or so to get the top extra golden, if desired! Let cool for 10 minutes or so, then top with fresh basil. Portion into bowls, and serve with the remaining 8 ounces of torn burrata, extra fresh parmesan, and fresh basil. Drizzle with a tiny bit of extra virgin olive oil to finish. Serve immediately!
*I like to use bulk pork sausage here for best flavor, but bulk chicken sausage will work here too!