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Sunday Dinner: Baked Ziti with a dark green salad

Today’s easy dinner recipe takes a little more cook time than some of our others – but that’s cook time, not prep time, which means you can do something else while it’s cooking. It’s very simple, hearty food: baked ziti with a dark green salad.

Overhead view of orange plate and brown bowl


  • 1 pound ziti pasta (dry)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • Salt
  • Black pepper (preferably fresh ground)
  • 2 (26 ounce) jars spaghetti sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 6 ounces provolone cheese, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup grated pecorino romano (optional)
  • Crushed red pepper

You have a lot of options with this recipe. If you follow it exactly, it’ll be delicious. But if you don’t like some of the cheeses it calls for (or don’t want to pay for them), or can’t be bothered with ground pepper, don’t worry: it’s still going to be good! Use whatever white cheeses you like. You can leave out the romano and add 1/4 cup of Parmesan. You can use Parmesan that’s not freshly grated.

  1. Cook the ziti pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water according to package instructions. Once it’s al dente (tender but still firm), drain the water.
  2. Brown the chopped onion ground beef in a skillet over medium heat. Add spaghetti sauce and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly butter a 9×13 inch baking dish. Layer as follows: 1/2 of the ziti, Provolone cheese, romano cheese, sour cream, 1/2 the meat sauce mixture, the rest of the ziti, mozzarella cheese and the rest of the meat sauce. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the cheeses are slightly browned. Serve immediately.

Dark Green Salad

For the salad, all you need is to get a package of dark green lettuce mix from the grocery store, some grape or cherry tomatoes (any kind of little tomato) and whatever dressing(s) you like. Toss it all together. If you don’t like the feeling of little tomatoes exploding in your mouth, cut them in half. The dark green lettuces are very good for you, and I love the taste of them. Some people have to acquire a taste for them, so if you’ve only ever eaten iceberg lettuce for salad, give yourself a chance to get used to dark greens.