Sunday, December 13, 2015

Copy Cat Olive Garden Baked Cheese Ziti Al Forno with Ragu


I have always been a huge fan of Olive Garden's Baked Ziti. I mean, gooey, cheesy pasta baked to perfection? Definitely delicious, and definitely a warm comfort meal perfect for a cold day. You can get this same yummy meal at home for a fraction of the price--and it's surprisingly FAST to put together! Once your noodles are cooked it literally takes minutes to throw together and only 20 minutes to bake--making this a 30 minute meal from start to finish! Give it a try. Your family will thank you.

Pasta in our family is a beloved tradition. Although we aren't Italian, we like to think that we are at heart because all our favorite dishes involve tomato sauce and noodles. And, apparently my love for all things pasta is genetic and my daughter inherited it. Her very favorite meals are lasagna, spaghetti, ravioli, and, after making this dish--ziti. Even my baby boy who just started eating solids loves anything with tomato sauce on it. Growing up I can remember coming home from school to the smell of my own favorite--my mom's spaghetti. As soon as I smelled it I would run over to the stove and start devouring the sauce before my mom could shoo me away. I would always sneak back for seconds as soon as she wasn't looking and eat more than my share when it was finally dinner time.

Because she was a working mom she definitely did not have the time to make her sauce. Her go to--and now my go to sauce--was Ragu pasta sauce. It has that homemade good old home cooking flavor with a simplicity you can't help but love. Obviously homemade sauces are great if you have the time. But who has the time? With a baby and a toddler competing for my attention, I definitely don't. But that doesnt mean i have to compromise on taste or quality.

Fortunately Ragu is an authentic Italian sauce that you can feel good about feeding your family. The sauce itself is a family tradition that was created by a humble yet endlessly influential Italian immigrant woman-- Assunta Cantisano.  She came to America with hardly anything in the way of possessions, but she did bring with her her family's recipe for tomato sauce. Her neighbors raved about her sauce--and the neighbor's neighbors--until she decided to chase her dreams. She bravely marketed her beloved sauce and succeeded even during the depression. No wonder Ragu is number one even 80 years later! I think in large part it's due to this little woman's determination and legacy. In addition to the classical, traditional nature of Ragu pasta sauce, I love that there is no high fructose corn syrup and no artificial flavors. If you look at the labels on pasta sauces that's vertually unheard of! Ragu uses farm grown ingredients and maintains a very affordable price.

I loved learning about Assunta Cantisano--talk about an amazing woman. Click here if you want to learn more about her and her inspiring story! (I was a history teacher so this stuff really interests me).

So now, here is the recipe you've been waiting for:

Copycat Olive Garden Baked Cheese Ziti Al Forno with Ragu Pasta Sauce
Recipe adapted from Budget Savvy Diva


  • 1 pound of pasta - cooked
  • 1 ( 24 oz) Jar of Ragu Marinara Sauce
  • 1 ( 15 oz) Jar of Ragu Alfredo Sauce
  • 2 Cups of Mozzarella Cheese
  • ¼ Cup of Fontina Cheese
  • 1 Cup of Parmesan Cheese
  • ½ Cup of Ricotta Cheese


  1. Cook your pasta according the the directions provided on the packaged.
  2. Over medium heat place the following in a large pot -Ragu marinara sauce, alfredo sauce, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, fontina, ½ cup of parmesan, and ricotta
  3. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and spray a 9x13 dish with non-stick cooking spray
  4. Cook the sauce over medium-high heat until it starts to bubble. Once the sauce is bubbling add the cooked pasta and stir until the cheeses are melted-- about a minutes.
  5. Transfer your pasta to the casserole dish and add the remaining parmesan and mozzarella cheese
  6. Bake for 20 minutes
  7. Remove from the oven, let it cool for 3-5 minutes and enjoy!

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What are some of your favorite food and pasta traditions? I'm still creating my traditions and list of favorite recipes, but this one will definitely be going down in the books as an A plus!


  1. This sounds amazing!!
    So glad I found your blog!

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  3. Did you put extra mozzarella cheese over top?

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  6. This sounds like a fantastic meal to make at home! I can't believe it's so simple and so fast, and I'm sure it tastes just as amazing as the Olive Garden's version. I can't wait to try it out soon!
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