Cast Iron

One-Pan Skillet-Baked Ziti with Burst Tomato Sauce

August  8, 2017
2 Ratings
Photo by Alexandra Stafford
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

From Cook's Illustrated Cook It In Cast Iron

Variations: Cook’s Country offers a simple puttanesca variation: Add 2 minced anchovies to skillet with garlic and increase pepper flakes to ½ teaspoon. Substitute ½ cup red wine for ½ cup of water. Substitute fresh parsley for the basil and stir ½ cup chopped pitted olives and 2 tablespoons minced capers into the cooked pasta along with the Parmesan.

Other ideas include: adding finely chopped kale, Swiss chard or spinach to the cooked pasta, which will incorporate easily and up the veggie quotient. Another idea is to add roasted eggplant or sautéed zucchini or other vegetables to the cooked pasta. For a richer variation, replace some of the water with heavy cream.
Alexandra Stafford

What You'll Need
  • 1.5 pounds cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 12 ounces (3.75 cups) ziti
  • 3 cups water, plus more as needed
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (1 cup)
  1. Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Heat 12-inch cast-iron skillet (or other large oven-safe skillet) over medium heat for 5 minutes. Toss tomatoes with oil and 1 teaspoon salt. Add tomatoes to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly charred and blistered, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic, tomato paste, and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Off heat, coarsely mash tomatoes using potato masher.
  2. Stir in pasta and water and bring to boil over medium-high heat. (I add another teaspoon of kosher salt at this point, and more later, but if you are sensitive to salt, maybe start with 1/2 teaspoon.) Reduce heat to a vigorous simmer (low heat), stir well, cover, and cook, stirring every few minutes, until pasta is tender, 15 to 18 minutes.
  3. Stir in Parmesan and adjust sauce consistency with extra hot water as needed. Stir in basil. Taste—this is your chance to get the seasoning right. Add salt and pepper to taste (I add another 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and lots of fresh pepper). Sprinkle with mozzarella. Transfer skillet to oven and broil until cheese is melted and spotty brown, about 5 minutes. Serve.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Leah Taylor
    Leah Taylor
  • Alexandra Stafford
    Alexandra Stafford
  • Rebecca Zicarelli
    Rebecca Zicarelli
  • Dyan
I write the blog alexandra's kitchen, a place for mostly simple, sometimes fussy, and always seasonal recipes. My cookbook, Bread Toast Crumbs is available everywhere books are sold.

11 Reviews

Rebecca Z. December 25, 2017
The directions are a bit unclear in the first paragraph. You pre-heat the broiler and heat the skillet over medium heat (on the stove top, I presume) than add the tomatoes; they are going under the broiler in the pre-heated pan to char? Thank you; interesting recipe, I'll give it a go later this week.
Alexandra S. December 25, 2017
Hi Rebecca,

Yes preheat the broiler, but heat the skillet over medium heat on the stovetop and proceed with the recipe on the stovetop — you won't need the broiler till the very end, the last part of step 3. Happy Holidays!
Dyan August 22, 2017
Delicious dish, it's a keeper. I sauteed diced zucchini and added this with the parmesan, plus a little creme fraiche for creaminess. As you say, seasoning is key. Love your suggested variations too.
Leah T. August 12, 2017
Would whole wheat penne work? They have the same cooking time
Leah T. August 12, 2017
Update it works wonderfully
Alexandra S. August 14, 2017
Yay!! So happy to hear this and so sorry I didn't see this earlier. Glad it worked out!
Allie August 11, 2017
Wasn't too sure about this one since I have several similar recipes....."Until" I expanded your notes for some good variations......thank you for the posting.
I enjoyed listening to you on Margaret Roach's show :) Allie
Alexandra S. August 14, 2017
Thank you so much, Allie! Margaret is the best :)

And yes, I think this recipe could be riffed on endlessly — I love the idea of adding some chard or kale to it. Hope you like it!
katiethisdell August 11, 2017
I made this last night, adding a half-package of mascarpone in with the parmesan to make it creamy. As expected, it was so delicious! And really easy too. (Though I did have to use two pans since my future in-laws don't have a large oven safe skillet. Not a big deal though.)
melissa August 13, 2017
mascarpone, yum! i am going to use ricotta in mine.
Alexandra S. August 14, 2017
Yum to mascarpone and ricotta! I think creme fraiche would add a nice tang and richness, too.

AND, Katie, congrats!!! So happy to hear about your engagement. Big hugs!! xoxo