Baked pasta (or pasta al forno), incuding baked ziti, has a history that dates back to the Middle Ages, when such dishes were prepared at banquets for nobles. Baked ziti with meat sauce is considered a dish of Italian-American origin.
Tomatoes were feared to be poisonous throughout Europe until the 19th century. The first pasta recipe with tomatoes was not documented until 1839. Therefore, baked ziti with meat sauce is a relatively recent dish in the history of Italian and Italian-inspired foods.
The ridges in pastas such as ziti exist to help the noodles better hold on to sauce. These ridges are created from the molds in which the pasta dough is formed.