Oven-Baked Ziti/Ziti al Forno

The ever-popular Ziti, tube-shaped pasta enjoyed the world over, gets its name from the word for bridegroom. In southern Italy, especially in Campania and Sicily, baked ziti has long been served at wedding celebration banquets, and this nostalgic and delicious tradition continues today. Ziti is best paired with tomato-based sauces and is often used in baked dishes like this whole wheat ziti and eggplant casserole. Other ingredients such as pork sausage, tiny meatballs and pancetta are also popular.

Serves 6


  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Hot Red Pepper Pesto or 1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
  • 2/3 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Good grinding coarse black pepper
  • 1 small eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • One 28-ounce can ground plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil or parsley
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped oil cured black olives
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/3 pound fresh mozzarella (fior di latte) cut into chunks
  • 1/2 pound whole-wheat ziti
  • Ingredients


  1. Heat 4 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat in a large stovetop to oven casserole dish or sauté pan with cover.  Stir in the onions and cook them over medium heat until they begin to soften. Stir in the garlic and continue cooking until the garlic softens. Add the pepper paste or flakes and cook 1 minute longer.
  3. Raise the heat to high; pour in 1/3 cup of the wine and allow most of it to evaporate. Scoop the onion mixture out of the pan and transfer it to a dish.
  5. Pour in the remaining olive oil and add the eggplant; salt and pepper the pieces and cook covered, stirring occasionally until the eggplant begins to brown. Return the onion mixture to the pan.
  7. In a bowl combine the tomatoes and the remaining wine; stir and add to the eggplant mixture. Stir in the basil or parsley and the olives. Lower the heat to simmer and cook covered for 20 minutes.
  9. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  11. Meanwhile cook the ziti in 2 quarts of boiling salted water for 5 minutes; they will cook further in the oven.
  13. Drain the ziti and add to the eggplant mixture and toss well. Sprinkle the grated cheese evenly over the top and scatter the mozzarella over the top.
  15. Cover and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until piping hot.

This recipe was featured on Season 21 - Episode 2106.

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Brien Higgins

Mary Ann,
At end of episode 2106 you showed a pasta with ham and broccoli casserole, but the recipe is not available on your website. It looked delicious. Can you please tell me how can I get the recipe?
Thanks, Brien

Carlo Cotellesse

Dear Maryann,
I’m a loyal fan of your’s & am deeply appreciate of your cooking advise. Years ago, while attempting to cook a Veal Stu that I loved but had no success in attempting to make a dinner as good as my Mom & Aunts, so I emailed you asking for your advise & within hours got a responce back from you & now my Veal Stu dinner is one of my best ones, thanks to you. I tell all my friends & family about your help.
Again thank you for your help
Carlo Cotellesse

Joan Amandolini Rodgers

As always I enjoyed the vidio and You.
Please let me what is the meeaning of the word
Thank you Joan

Margaret Spann

I am of Italian descent. my father was born in Calabria. Although my mother was of German descent, and didn’t cook a lot of Italian dishes, I always felt mostly Italian, even took Italian in High School. Love your show and watch it whenever I know it’s on.

Susan Stanke

I have watched your shows from the very beginning, 1989. My go to sauce is Salsa Fresca di Pomodori e Basilico from Ciao Italia, with lots of personal notes written in the margin. I just love the videos with your current recipes, plan to make the baked ziti which came to my inbox today. Please keep up this recipe direction.

Thank you.

Susan Stanke

Theresa Creasia-Twist

I saw you on TV Diner with Billy Costa . Loved the spot you did on the different kinds of olive oil . Very informative ! Thanks Theresa

Theresa Creasia-Twist

I saw you on TV Diner with Billy Costa . Loved the spot you did on the different kinds of olive oil . Very informative ! Thanks Theresa

Tootie Lullmann

Thank You for the receipe, your trip too Italy looked like fun, enjoy, and send more receipes, Tootie Lullmann



Patti Dagostino

I live in New Jersey and miss getting your TV show on TV. Can you tell me what NY station you are on. Thanks for all the great Receipes. I enjoy you cook books and newsletters.

Thank you, Patti


I have followed your show for years on PBS and have a couple of your books. You are a wonderful teacher and always make your recipes look so inviting that I can almost smell them when you take them out of the oven.

Thank you too for sharing your selected recipes on the web. You are as gracious as you are celebrated.
Thanks again,
Fran Scholl


Great dish! Simple, and be altered to many other dishes and delicious!


Why do you not add ricotta to your baked auto recipe?

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