Italian Sausage Baked Ziti

Italian Sausage Baked Ziti

Does anything say comfort better than a bubbling hot pan of Baked Ziti with Sweet Italian sausage sizzling on top? Hmmm…I can’t think of anything right now. This is my Mom’s ziti. Mom’s recipes are the best where home-cooking is concerned. This is serious comfort food for a cold Sunday afternoon dinner snuggled up where it’s warm with your family gathered around. Since we’re talking ziti I have to mention the odd recipe I saw that called for sour cream in place of ricotta. I’m not sure how I feel about it. Ziti without ricotta wouldn’t be the same for me. Ziti is all about the cheese, oodles of stringy, ooey-gooey cheese! It’s not for the faint of heart or the cheese-conscious.

Ziti is really just another form of lasagna – the same ingredients are required – only the shape of the pasta is different – the flavors are there. You might question why this is called baked ziti when penne is used. Traditional ziti are long tubes that you break up before cooking, a rare find, as they are sold already broken up nowadays. Acceptable substitutes are penne, penne rigati, and mostaciolli. Penne rigate are the best because of their ridges. Cheese and sauce stick better to them.

This feeds a small crowd, but can easily be halved or frozen to enjoy at a later date. The leftovers rock!

Italian Sausage Baked Ziti

Baked Ziti (by Reeni)
1 (16 ounce) package penne rigate pasta
32 ounces ricotta cheese
1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon Parsley, fresh, chopped
Italian Sausage, cooked, sliced
Homemade Tomato Sauce(recipe to follow)or 1-2 large jars good spaghetti sauce like Barila
Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling on top and more for serving
Cook pasta to al dente according to package directions. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Spray a 9×13 inch casserole/baking dish with non-stick baking spray. Set aside.
While the pasta is cooking mix the ricotta cheese, 8 ounces of the Mozzarella, egg and parsley together in a large mixing bowl. Add the cooked, drained Ziti to the ricotta cheese mixture along with 3 cups of the sauce. Mix to incorporate the ricotta and sauce throughout. Add more sauce if needed.
Add the Ziti to the baking dish and top with the remaining mozzarella. Cover with sliced sausage or meatballs. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake Ziti about 35 -45 minutes or until bubbly and heated in the middle. If the top of the pasta seems to be browning too fast cover with aluminum foil.
Tomato Sauce
(by Reeni)
1 large onion, diced
1 green pepper julienned
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can tomato paste
2 – 28 oz. can Crushed Tomatoes (like Tuttarosa)
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons dried Italian Seasonings (We use a mix that has basil, oregano, thyme, marjoram and rosemary in it)
1 teaspoon dried sage
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt (to start and more to taste)
¼ teaspoon black pepper (to start and more to taste)
Pinch of sugar
1. In a large pan sauté the onion and green pepper in Olive Oil until soft; add garlic and sauté until fragrant and tender.
2. Add tomato paste. Stir it into the onion and garlic mixture and allow it to heat through. Add tomatoes, water, and seasonings including bay leaves, salt, pepper and pinch of sugar.
3. Simmer for 45 minutes. Taste and add salt/pepper and more dried seasonings if needed. Remove bay leaves before serving.

Italian Sausage Baked Ziti

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