No-Boil Baked Ziti With Bison Meatballs

Baked ziti (ziti al forno) is a true comfort food to me.  A warm, baked, cheesy pasta dish bubbling from the oven is true comfort food.  Baked pasta dishes such as this have been around since the Middle Ages when nobles served such dishes at banquets. Once popular all over Italy, these days it is considered more of a staple dish for southern Italian towns such as Sicily and Campania. Here in the United States, baked ziti has remained a standby in Italian-American homes and restaurants for generations.

My recipe for baked ziti makes whipping up this dish pretty easy.  This is a “no-boil” recipe, meaning you can assemble the entire dish with uncooked pasta and then pop it in the oven to cook.  I added a simple bison-pork meatball to this recipe to add some protein to this pasta dish, making it even more satisfying.  As with all recipes that call for tomato sauce, I prefer and encourage everyone to make their own sauce.

My simple tomato sauce is pretty easy and does not include added sugar–a common ingredient in store-bought options.  That said, it takes a bit of time and planning.  Weekdays are taxing as it is, schedules are packed; I get it.  You can substitute store-bought sauce, which makes this one-pot meal even faster to whip up.


For this recipe, I use dried rigatoni pasta instead of traditional ziti because, to me, the ridges on a rigatoni noodle allow for the sauce to adhere slightly better.  You can, however, use traditional ziti noodles or any other tubular pasta, such as penne–the cooking time should not change.

I am a huge meatball fan; honestly, I could eat meatballs and sauce every day.  There are many ways to make good meatballs, depending on what you want to use them for.  In this recipe, I like to use ground bison and a little bit of ground pork.  Bison is one of the leanest, most nutritious red meats available.

Bison are typically raised on open ranches and fed grass.  As a result, the meat contains less (if any) artificial antibiotics, hormones, and steroids, and the production is more eco-friendly.  It is also one of the lowest-calorie meats: a 1/4 pound bison burger contains about 146 calories, about 20% less than a similarly sized ground beef burger.  Ground bison is also lean and lower in saturated fat and cholesterol, making it a go-to for me in many recipes that call for ground beef. Being that I love meatballs as much as I do, adding these to my baked ziti seems perfect.  

baked ziti

About the Author

Andrea Potischman

I am a professionally trained NYC chef turned CA mom and food blogger. I post about real food, with doable ingredient lists that are family friendly.

One thought on "No-Boil Baked Ziti With Bison Meatballs"

  1. Avatar photo Renee Despins says:

    Congratulations on becoming a publisher of recipes on Yummly

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