Ever wondered what perfectly pairs with the cozy comfort of baked ziti? Fear not, because we’ve got you covered with an array of options that compliment those rich, hearty flavors beautifully.
So, pull up a chair, grab a fork, and let’s dive into some delectable dishes that you can serve alongside your baked ziti. Browse through, pick what tickles your taste buds, and find that perfect match for your meal!
I’ve put all the recipes in specific categories to help you find your favorites faster. Jump around using the navigation below!
The crusty and warm Italian bread makes a perfect accompaniment to baked ziti. It serves as a great tool for mopping up any leftover sauce and adds a contrasting texture to the dish. Garlic bread, ciabatta, or a rustic loaf can be particularly good choices.
Ciabatta is a rustic Italian bread with a unique, chewy texture that stands up well to hearty sauces. Slice it and serve alongside the ziti or use it to mop up leftover sauce.
Garlic bread is the easiest to make and one of the most common pairings with baked ziti. It’s a perfect match because the rich garlic and butter flavors complement the hearty pasta.
Simply take a store-bought baguette, slice it, spread with garlic butter, and heat in the oven until crispy and golden. Serve it warm with the ziti for an amazing flavor combination.
(Garlic bread also works great as a Tuscan chicken side.)
Bruschetta is a step up from garlic bread in terms of preparation, but its fresh and tangy flavors provide a nice contrast to baked ziti. Toast slices of Italian bread, then top with a mix of diced tomatoes, basil, garlic, and olive oil.
The cool, fresh topping is a wonderful counterpoint to the warm, rich pasta dish.
Focaccia, an Italian flatbread, pairs wonderfully with baked ziti because of its light and fluffy texture. The process involves making a yeast dough and topping it with olive oil, rosemary, and coarse salt before baking.
The savory flavors of the focaccia complement the ziti, and the bread’s crusty exterior is perfect for scooping up extra sauce.
(Got too much leftover focaccia? Here are some great focaccia sides.)
Rhodes Garlic Knots
Garlic knots are a great pairing with baked ziti because they complement each other well. The garlic and buttery flavor of the knots provide a nice contrast to the rich and cheesy flavor of the baked ziti.
To serve, simply place the garlic knots on a platter and serve them alongside the baked ziti. Guests can either dip the knots in the ziti sauce or enjoy them on their own. It’s a great way to add some variety and flavor to your pasta meal.
Fresh and crunchy side salads help balance the richness of the baked ziti. Consider light vinaigrette-based salads with ingredients like romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, or arugula. They offer a refreshing contrast to the cheesy and hearty ziti.
Arugula and Parmesan Salad
This salad pairs the peppery bite of arugula with the salty, umami flavor of shaved Parmesan. A light lemon vinaigrette dresses the salad, offering a refreshing citrus note that cuts through the richness of the ziti.
To prepare, toss arugula with thinly shaved Parmesan, drizzle with a vinaigrette made of lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
A traditional Italian salad consisting of ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, and basil leaves, all drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic glaze. It’s a perfect match for baked ziti because it’s light and fresh, with flavors that complement the tomato and cheese in the pasta.
To prepare, simply slice the tomatoes and mozzarella, layer them with basil leaves on a platter, drizzle with oil and glaze, and season with salt and pepper.
Easy Italian Salad
This easy Italian salad works well with baked ziti as a side dish. The fresh and crisp salad complements the richness of the baked ziti.
To serve it with baked ziti, simply plate a portion of the baked ziti and add a side of the Italian salad.
The salad can be dressed with the Italian dressing and topped with freshly shredded parmesan cheese. The combination of the warm and hearty baked ziti with the cool and refreshing salad would make for a satisfying and well-rounded meal.
This Greek salad pairs well with baked ziti because the fresh and tangy flavors of the salad provide a nice contrast to the rich and hearty baked ziti. The crisp cucumbers and juicy tomatoes in the salad also provide a refreshing element to the meal.
To serve, simply plate a portion of baked ziti and a serving of the Greek salad on the side. Alternatively, you could mix the salad right into the baked ziti for a more cohesive dish. Enjoy!
Panzanella salad is a great pairing with baked ziti because the hearty salad complements the rich and creamy pasta dish. The fresh and acidic flavors of the salad help to balance out the heavier flavors of the ziti.
To serve, simply plate a portion of baked ziti and top with a generous serving of panzanella salad on the side.
Grilled Caesar Salad
Grilled Caesar Salad works well with baked ziti because it adds a fresh and light element to the meal. The smoky flavor from the grilled lettuce and the tangy Caesar dressing complement the rich and hearty flavors of the baked ziti.
To serve, place a generous portion of baked ziti on a plate and add a grilled Caesar salad on the side. Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the salad for an extra burst of flavor.
Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese & Pistachios
This roasted beet salad with goat cheese and pistachios makes a great pairing with baked ziti. The salad provides a refreshing contrast to the hearty and rich flavors of the baked ziti. The earthy sweetness of the beets and the tanginess of the goat cheese complement the tomato sauce in the ziti.
To serve, simply plate a portion of the baked ziti alongside a serving of the salad. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to coat before serving.
Oven-roasted vegetables, such as zucchini, bell peppers, eggplants, or Brussels sprouts, complement the baked pasta. The roasting process enhances the vegetables’ natural flavors and provides a healthy balance to the meal.
Roasted Bell Peppers
These are one of the easiest vegetables to roast and their sweet, slightly charred flavor pairs wonderfully with baked ziti.
Simply cut the peppers into large strips, toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast in the oven until tender and slightly charred. The sweet and smoky flavors of the peppers contrast nicely with the savory ziti.
Asparagus roasts quickly and its bright, earthy flavor complements the rich ziti. Trim the tough ends of the asparagus, toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast until tender and lightly browned.
The unique flavor and crisp texture of asparagus offer a refreshing contrast to the ziti.
Roasted Zucchini and Eggplant
These two vegetables roast well together and their flavors match the Mediterranean profile of baked ziti. Slice the zucchini and eggplant, toss with olive oil and your choice of spices, and roast until golden. The tender, roasted vegetables provide a different texture and lightness to the meal.
Sauteed Green Beans
Sautéed green beans with garlic can be an excellent pairing with baked ziti. The crisp, fresh, and lightly seasoned green beans can offer a nice counterpoint to the baked ziti’s richness, and the garlic in both dishes creates a pleasant flavor bridge between the two.
To serve, you could place a portion of the green beans alongside the baked ziti on the same plate. This allows the green beans to remain a distinct side dish, offering a break from the heavier main course when needed.
Balsamic Bacon Brussels sprout
Balsamic bacon Brussels sprouts can make a great side dish for baked ziti. The caramelized Brussels sprouts with crispy bacon bring a unique blend of sweet, tangy, and savory flavors which can complement the hearty, cheesy taste of the baked ziti.
The balsamic reduction adds an acidity that helps cut through the richness of the ziti, bringing balance to the meal. Also, the texture of the roasted sprouts provides a pleasing contrast to the softer pasta.
To serve, you could simply plate the Brussels sprouts next to a portion of baked ziti, letting their bright colors and caramelization visually enhance the dish. The blend of Italian comfort food and these more contemporary, flavorful Brussels sprouts would create an exciting and balanced meal.
Honey Roasted Carrots and Parsnips
Honey-roasted carrots and parsnips would pair well with baked ziti due to the combination of sweet, earthy, and savory flavors. The sweetness of the honey complements the hearty ziti, while the roasted root vegetables provide a contrasting texture. The thyme in the recipe also adds a herbal note that can play off nicely against the ziti’s tomato and cheese flavors.
In terms of serving, you can simply plate these vegetables next to the ziti, allowing guests to mix and match flavors in each bite. The colorful roasted vegetables not only add a visual appeal to the dish but also contribute to a well-rounded and healthful meal.
If you’re looking for a protein addition, grilled chicken or sausages are excellent options. The smoky flavor from the grill adds depth to the overall meal and the proteins make the meal more substantial.
Grilled Italian Sausages
This is an easy and straightforward pairing. The spices in Italian sausage complement the flavors in baked ziti, and the smoky notes from grilling add a new dimension to the meal.
Simply grill the sausages until well-browned and cooked through, then serve alongside or sliced on top of the ziti.
Grilled Chicken Breasts
Grilled chicken is a versatile, healthy choice that pairs well with the robust flavors of baked ziti. Marinate the chicken breasts in a mixture of olive oil, garlic, lemon zest, and Italian herbs, then grill until cooked through.
The lean protein balances the richness of the ziti, and the marinade ties in the Italian theme of the meal.
Grilled Shrimp Skewers
Grilled shrimp skewers could provide a delightful contrast when served with baked ziti. The ziti is a hearty, baked pasta dish with robust flavors and the grilled shrimp skewers, with their lighter, smoky, and slightly tangy profile, can help balance the richness of the pasta.
This combination also allows you to introduce a seafood element to an otherwise all-vegetarian or meat-based dish.
To serve, you could present the grilled shrimp skewers on a platter alongside the baked ziti, allowing guests to enjoy the contrasting flavors and textures at their own pace.
Grilled Lamb Chops
Garlic and rosemary grilled lamb chops could make an interesting pairing with baked ziti, especially for those who appreciate hearty, robust meals. The richness and earthiness of the lamb, enhanced by the garlic and rosemary, can provide a complementary counterpoint to the creamy and tangy flavors of the ziti.
Serving this combination might best be achieved by presenting the lamb chops as a separate main dish alongside the baked ziti, allowing guests to enjoy both flavors distinctly. However, it might be worth noting that this is a heavier pairing, so it would be suitable for larger meals or for those with bigger appetites.
Grilled Pork Tenderloin
Grilled pork tenderloin on the stovetop can indeed pair nicely with baked ziti. The savory, aromatic flavor of the pork tenderloin, with its hints of garlic and rosemary, contrasts well with the cheesy, tomato-based ziti.
To serve them together, slice the pork tenderloin and serve it on the side of a portion of baked ziti. This allows your guests or family to enjoy a bite of the tender, flavorful pork along with the creamy and tangy ziti. It’s a satisfying meal that covers different flavor profiles and textures, making it an enjoyable dining experience.
Grilled Veal Chops
Grilled veal chops with a garlic herb crust and baked ziti could make an appealing combination because they each bring different elements to a meal. The veal’s savory, smoky, and herby flavors would nicely counterbalance the baked ziti’s rich, cheesy, and tomato-based profile.
When serving, one could present the veal chop atop a serving of ziti or alongside it on a plate. The veal’s strong flavors will not be overwhelmed by the baked ziti’s hearty characteristics.
However, both dishes are quite heavy, so consider balancing the meal with a light side dish. A fresh green salad or a portion of grilled vegetables could add a needed touch of brightness and lightness to the meal.
Antipasti like olives, marinated artichokes, or salami can add a fun, appetizer-style complement to baked ziti. The salty and tangy flavors can cleanse the palate between bites of the rich main dish.
A variety of olives, perhaps marinated in olive oil, garlic, and Italian herbs, are one of the easiest antipasti to prepare. The briny, salty flavor of the olives offers a great contrast to the rich and cheesy baked ziti.
These are available jarred in most grocery stores and make for a tangy, easy addition to your meal. The acidity of the artichokes helps to cut through the richness of the ziti, providing a welcome contrast.
Assemble a selection of Italian cured meats like salami, prosciutto, and capocollo. The salty, savory meats offer a rich contrast to the baked ziti. While assembling doesn’t require much cooking, it does involve thoughtful selection and arrangement of the components.
Low carb mozzarella sticks and baked ziti can complement each other well, offering contrasting yet harmonious flavors and textures. The creamy, melty cheese and crispy exterior of the mozzarella sticks could provide a nice contrast to the soft, rich pasta, cheese, and tomato flavors of the baked ziti.
These mozzarella sticks would serve as an excellent appetizer before the main course of baked ziti. You can plate a few mozzarella sticks with a side of marinara sauce for dipping, offering guests a taste of the flavors they’ll experience in the baked ziti.
While both dishes are rich and cheese-based, the distinct textures and the contrasting appetizer-main course setup should prevent the combination from feeling monotonous. To balance the richness, consider including a light salad or some marinated vegetables.
These skewers alternate cherry tomatoes, small balls of mozzarella (bocconcini), and basil leaves. They’re typically drizzled with a balsamic glaze. The skewers offer the flavors of a Caprese salad in a convenient, bite-sized format.
They require a bit of prep work to assemble, but their bright, fresh flavors complement the hearty ziti beautifully.
Vegan Stuffed Mini Peppers
Gluten-free vegan stuffed mini peppers with vegan garlic cashew spread can be a delightful pairing with baked ziti. The crisp texture of the mini peppers and the creamy, savory filling provide a refreshing contrast to the baked ziti’s rich and gooey textures. The lemon and garlic flavors in the cashew spread will provide a tangy, zesty counterpoint to the pasta, making it a good palate cleanser between bites of the ziti.
As this dish is best served as an appetizer, you can present the stuffed mini peppers on a platter for guests to enjoy before the main course. Their vibrant colors and unique flavors would set a great tone for the delicious baked ziti to follow, while also catering to any vegan or gluten-free dietary needs.
Sounds like something up your alley? Here’s the Gluten-Free Vegan Stuffed Mini Peppers with Vegan Garlic Cashew Spread recipe, courtesy of The Healthy Family and Home™.
This would be a more involved project, but one that offers an array of flavors to pair with the baked ziti. A traditional antipasti platter might include various meats, cheeses, olives, marinated vegetables, and breadsticks.
While no cooking is typically involved, an antipasti platter requires careful selection and arrangement of the components.
Italian Stuffed Mushrooms
Italian sausage stuffed mushrooms are a fantastic pairing with baked ziti. The mushrooms offer an earthy contrast to the rich, cheese-laden ziti, while the Italian sausage and garlic in the mushroom stuffing echo the flavors found in the pasta dish. The robust, meaty stuffing also provides a satisfying and substantial antipasti that isn’t overly heavy.
To serve this dish with baked ziti, present the stuffed mushrooms as an appetizer before the main course. You could also serve them alongside the baked ziti for a more casual, buffet-style meal, giving your guests the chance to enjoy both dishes at their own pace. This combination will ensure a flavorful and varied Italian dining experience.
Finish your meal on a sweet note with classic Italian desserts like tiramisu, cannoli, or panna cotta. These desserts continue the Italian theme of the meal and provide a pleasing contrast to the savory main dish.
This simple yet indulgent dessert consists of a scoop of vanilla gelato or ice cream drowned in a shot of hot espresso. The creamy sweetness of the ice cream paired with the bitter espresso makes for a delightful ending to your meal. It requires minimal preparation but delivers a delicious Italian flavor.
Biscotti is a wonderful pairing with baked ziti for a number of reasons. First, the savory, cheesy baked ziti provides a hearty, rich main course, which is then beautifully contrasted by the sweet and slightly crunchy biscotti, offering a satisfying end to the meal.
The biscotti, being an Italian dessert, complements the Italian theme of the baked ziti, keeping the entire meal within the same culinary tradition.
To serve, enjoy the baked ziti as your main course, then clear away the dishes and serve the biscotti with a cup of coffee or tea, providing a perfect sweet note to finish the meal.
A vegan panna cotta with mixed berries is an excellent pairing with baked ziti. The rich and savory flavors of the baked ziti are perfectly offset by the sweet, creamy, and slightly tangy panna cotta, creating a well-rounded dining experience. Both dishes represent traditional Italian cuisine, thereby maintaining a consistent culinary theme throughout the meal.
After enjoying the baked ziti as your main course, serve the chilled panna cotta as a refreshing and light dessert to cleanse the palate and conclude the meal on a sweet note.
Tiramisu is a delightful dessert pairing with baked ziti. The creamy, light, and subtly sweet flavors of the tiramisu provide a perfect contrast to the hearty, savory, and cheese-laden baked ziti. Additionally, the coffee flavor in the tiramisu acts as a palate cleanser, making it a refreshing finish to the meal.
To serve it, after enjoying the baked ziti, clear the table and give your guests a few moments to digest the main course. Then, bring out the tiramisu, pre-sliced for convenience. This slight pause between the main course and dessert will not only allow the guests to appreciate the different courses but also make the dessert a pleasant surprise.
These Italian doughnuts are a treat to end your meal. The sweet, deep-fried dough is typically dusted with powdered sugar and sometimes filled with jelly or cream.
Making zeppole involves making a dough, deep frying, and filling, so they are one of the more labor-intensive options.
Sicilian Cassata Cake
Cassata cake pairs excellently with baked ziti. Baked ziti’s savory, cheesy flavor profiles find a delightful counterbalance in the sweetness and richness of the cassata cake, with its creamy ricotta filling, fruit and chocolate elements, and luxurious chocolate icing.
This combination will engage all taste buds, from the first bite of the hearty baked ziti to the last bite of the decadent cassata cake.
Following the main course of baked ziti, serve a slice of the cassata cake as a finale to the meal, creating a deliciously indulgent Italian dining experience.
Avocado semifreddo with strawberries and basil offers a refreshing and unconventional end to a meal featuring baked ziti. The fruity, creamy, and slightly herbaceous notes of the semifreddo provide a cool contrast to the warm, rich, and hearty baked ziti. Additionally, the Italian roots of semifreddo maintain the cultural theme of the meal.
When it comes to serving, allow the baked ziti to be the star of the main course without any distractions. After clearing the main course dishes, present the semifreddo in individual slices on chilled dessert plates. The chilly temperature and creamy texture would make a delightful surprise after the hearty baked pasta, making your meal both memorable and balanced.