Why This Recipe Works
To get a baked ziti recipe with perfectly al dente pasta, a rich and flavorful sauce, and melted cheese in every bite, we parted from convention in several ways. First, we substituted cottage cheese for ricotta because the larger cheese curds baked up pillowy instead of grainy, the way ricotta did. For al dente pasta in our ziti recipe, we cooked the pasta only halfway, then added extra sauce to the dish so the pasta could absorb more liquid without drying out the finished dish. Finally, we cut the mozzarella into small cubes rather than shredding it, so it melted into distinct but delectable little pockets of cheese rather than congealing into an unappetizing mass.