The Real Reason Your Baked Ziti Turned Out Dry

One of the most versatile ingredients on the planet, which seems to pair with an almost unlimited number of sauces and accouterments, pasta gains a whole other level of versatility when you consider just how many shapes and sizes it comes in. From farfalle bow ties to ribbony fettuccine to corkscrew fusilli, each pasta shape serves a purpose, pairing more serendipitously with a certain type of sauce, such as how thin noodles like capellini are better suited to light sauces that won't weigh down the delicate strands (via Food Network).

Of course, some of the most beloved pasta shapes are the short, tubular ones that are made for catching thick, chunky sauces within their hollow middle: Think penne, rigatoni, cavatappi, and ziti (via Food Network). That last one is a pasta shape adored by many, who have likely enjoyed it in baked ziti, a classic casserole similar to lasagna that typically features the noodles folded with tomato sauce and ricotta, layered with melty cheese such as mozzarella, and baked in the oven until the top layer turns brown and crusty (via The Kitchn). This hearty, warming dish is definitely a crowd-pleaser, but it's also prone to turning out a bit dry. 

If the sad occasion of a dry baked ziti has befallen you in the kitchen, read on to learn how to ensure your next one will turn out nice and moist.

Make sure to toss your ziti with plenty of sauce

Baked pastas are truly among the most comforting main dishes out there, and that old standby baked ziti is no exception. Rather similar to lasagna, as it also draws upon tomato sauce, ricotta filling, and plenty of melty cheese with which to cloak the pasta, the dish is somewhat more suited to weeknight cooking, as the layering and saucing process is a whole lot less fussy than the one required of lasagna (via The Kitchn).

The flavors of baked ziti satisfy a wide range of palates, so its popularity is easy to account for. But we've all likely sunk a fork into a baked ziti that's just too dry, seeming like a conglomeration of noodles instead of a moist sum of its parts. That pitfall, according to The Kitchn, is almost always due to not saucing the ziti adequately. You see, as the starchy pasta bakes in the oven, it swells and absorbs a large amount of sauce, which is exactly why The Kitchn recommends adding a hefty 5 cups of marinara per pound of dried ziti. 

Happily Unprocessed also shared a slew of reasons one's ziti may have turned out dry, noting overcooked noodles and noodles that aren't fully covered in sauce.