Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Baked Ziti

Lately, Joe and I have been doing a lot of what I call "thrown-together" eating -- making random meals thrown together with the ingredients we have on hand. Most of these meals aren't very blog-worthy, which is why things have been kind of quiet around here lately. However, in response to a hearty Italian food craving that wouldn't leave me alone, I "threw together" this baked ziti, and I think it has become an instant family favorite. So I have to blog about it.

Before I made this, the only baked ziti I had actually ever eaten in my life was from Sbarro at the mall food court. I was initially going to make my own version vegetarian like that one, but Joe -- carnivore extraordinaire -- suggested that I add hot Italian sausage. I typically always use hot Italian sausage in my pasta sauce, so it seemed like a natural fit. So I agreed.

This really hit the spot for me; it's comforting, hearty and delicious. And I pretty much love anything topped with blistery cheese, so that was another added bonus.

Baked Ziti
Source: Cassie

1 pound ziti pasta
1 pound ground hot Italian sausage
1 small onion, chopped
1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce (I used roasted garlic tomato sauce)
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon sugar
1 14.75-ounce can diced tomatoes
8 ounces ricotta cheese
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese, divided

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cook ziti in salted water according to package directions; drain. Add about 1 tablespoon of butter and 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese directly to the noodles; stir until butter and cheese are melted.

3. Meanwhile, brown sausage in a small amount of olive oil in a large, high-sided skillet. Add onion and saute until onion is translucent and sausage is cooked through.

4. Add pasta sauce, Italian seasoning, sugar, and diced tomatoes to the sausage mixture. When sauce is heated through, stir in ricotta cheese. Once the ricotta is incorporated, add the ziti to the sauce mixture.

5. Pour half of the ziti mixture into a greased 9 x 13 casserole dish. Top with 2 cups mozzarella cheese. Pour the rest of the ziti on top of the cheese layer, and top with remaining mozzarella and remaining 1/2 cup of parmesan.

6. Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes; remove foil and baked for an additional 20 minutes. Turn broiler to high and broil for 1-2 minutes, or until cheese begins to blister.

1 comment:

Donna-FFW said...

LOVE baked ziti and your s sounds terrific with the sausage added.