*I get commissions for purchases made through affiliate links in this post at no extra cost to you. I do not promote anything I haven’t validated or personally used myself. This mama appreciates your support.
I’m super excited about this five cheese ziti al forno recipe. I’m obsessed with Olive Garden’s recipe and have always tried to replicate it.
Since the quarantine, I’ve had a better chance of experimenting with recipes since time is currently on my side. Without even trying, I think I came very close to recreating this all-time favorite dish.
I started by blaring my music to mute the sound of the kids. I wanted to get in the zone. A place where I could be carefree and could focus more on remembering the words to every 90’s R&B song than if I was messing up dinner.
I knew that if things went south, it wouldn’t matter. I had the time to simply fix it or worse case, cook something else.
When you work full time, try to run a household, and raise two toddlers, your schedule can be quite mundane at times. It’s easier to follow a strict schedule to get everything done and keep some sense of order.
There usually is no time for mistakes, especially when it comes to mealtime. I tend to stick to what I know to keep things easy. I think I’m just in survival mode most of the time.
The kids can really create a strain on your mental health at this age. Trying new recipes while they are running around screaming usually doesn’t happen. I usually just focus on surviving until bedtime.
What is in the Five Cheese Ziti al Forno?
The five cheese ziti al forno recipe consists of:
- ziti pasta
- 5 kinds of cheese
- crispy panko topping
This dish is baked after being topped with the panko bread crumbs to make them extra crispy. This recipe is in my top 3 favorite comfort foods and I’m sure you’ll agree once you try it.
What Five Cheeses are Used?
A traditional five cheese ziti al forno dish typically consists of parmesan, mozzarella, fontina, romano, and ricotta.
I personally do not like ricotta cheese. So I substitute and use provolone. I wouldn’t be able to eat this dish if it consisted of ricotta. Feel free to do the same and substitute one of the cheeses out if you are not a fan.
There’s no point in making this dish if you can’t truly enjoy it.
What Does ‘Al Forno’ Mean?
This is simple. Al forno means a food that has been baked in the oven.
Traditionally, most pasta dishes require the pasta to be served al dente. When pasta dishes call to be ‘al forno,’ this means that the pasta is meant to be served soft. That is not the case here.
Make sure to follow me on Pinterest to find more yummy recipes like this.
Five Cheese Ziti al Forno Recipe Below
The thing about this recipe is that it’s pretty much dummy-proof. The hardest part is not burning the butter and the garlic in the beginning steps. If you can succeed at that, you can’t really mess up the rest. Everything that comes next is a cakewalk.
This recipe is not only simple, but it makes me look like a better cook than I probably am. My favorite part about this dish is that it tastes even better the next day.
Five Cheese Ziti al Forno
Refrigerated and Dairy
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 1/2 cup pecorino romano cheese, grated
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1/2 cup fontina cheese, shredded
- 1/4 cup provolone cheese, shredded
Baking, Spices & Condiments
- 3 tbsp garlic, minced
- 4 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 28 oz tomatoes, crushed
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 2 tbsp red pepper, crushed
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 lb ziti
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Boil water and cook noodles to time listed on the box. Start making the sauce while the noodles are cooking.
- Heat saucepan to low-medium heat. Add butter and garlic. Once butter is melted and garlic is browned, whisk in flour. Continually whisk until there are no clumps.
- Whisk in heavy cream, let simmer for 3 minutes. While continually whisking, slowly add in Parmesan and Pecorino Romano cheeses making sure to smooth out any clumps. Let simmer for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Stir in tomatoes until completed mixed. This will result in a pinkish color. Add in salt, pepper, onion powder, red pepper and paprika. Stir until fully mixed in. Taste and adjust seasoning to liking if desired. Remove from heat.
- Place noodles in baking pan. Top with sauce covering all the noodles. Finish by topping with mozzarella, fontina and provolone cheese. Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is fully melted.
- Removed from oven and serve with your favorite bread.Enjoy!