Despite not having a single drop of Italian blood between us Rich and I LOVE Italian food. In addition to being delicious, it is also so easy to double the recipe and freeze it in smaller portions to pull out on those nights when I don't want to cook. While homemade sauce is the best, I have found some delicious jarred sauce at the grocery store that is perfect for this busy Mom.
Here are some of my favorite make-ahead Italian recipes:
6 cups (16oz.) ziti, uncooked
3 cups (28 oz. jar) spaghetti sauce, divided
1 ¾ cups (15 oz.) ricotta cheese
2 cups (8oz.) Shredded mozzarella cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley or 1 tbs. dried parsley flakes
1 tsp. Dried oregano leaves
½ tsp. Garlic powder
½ tsp. Salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
3 tbs. Grated Parmesan cheese
Heat over to 375degrees. Cook pasta according to package directions for 9 minutes; drain. In large bowl, stir together hot pasta, 1 ½ cups spaghetti sauce, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, parsley, egg, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper. In 13x9-inch baking dish, spoon pasta mixture; top with remaining 1 ½ cups sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese; cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly (doubly recipe may require increased baking time) Makes 10 servings
Make ahead directions: Prepare recipe as directed, but do not bake. Cover with plastic wrap, then foil. Refrigerate up to 24 hours or freeze up to 2 months. Thaw frozen version overnight. Remove plastic wrap; replace foil. Bake as directed, adding about 10 minutes to baking time.
1 pkg. jumbo shells, cooked according to package
4 cups (2lbs) ricotta cheese
2 cups (8oz) shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
3/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
3 cups homemade or jar tomato sauce
Heat oven to 375*F. In a large bowl, stir together cheeses, eggs, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper. In a 13x9 inch baking dish spread 1/2 cup sauce. Fill each cooked shell with about 2 tablespoons cheese mixture. Line up shells in dish.; spread remaining sauce on top. Sprinkle with Parm cheese. Cover with foil and bake at 350* for 35 minutes.
Bake ahead directions: Prepare as directed above. Do not bake. Cover baking dish tightly with plastic wrap, then foil. Freeze up to 2 months. Remove foil and plastic wrap; replace foil. Bake at 350* for 2 hours until hot and bubbly. If thawed in fridge, bake at 350* for 1 hour 15 minutes or until hot.
Since Rich and I are the only ones in the house who eat stuffed shells, I freeze 4-6 shells in each package so this is a great way to fill the freeze fast.
Laura's Meatballs - This is my sisters recipe and the best meatballs that I have had
1/2 cup Parm cheese
1.4 cup parsley
2 tsp. salt
1 onion grated
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup oil
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 jars sauce (we prefer Bertoli Vineyard Marina w/ Burgundy)
Combine bread crumbs, beef, cheese, parsley, salt, onion, garlic and egg. Season with pepper. gently form balls (golf ball size). Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Heat 1/2 of the oil in skillet over med-high heat. Brown 1/2 of the balls turning during cooking.(approx 10 minutes). Dump oil, wipe skillet out and brown the second half of the balls. Return all balls to skillet and pour sauce over. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer covered for at least 1 hour (the longer, the better). You can also place these in the crockpot with sauce after browning. Freeze up to 6 weeks.