Baked Ziti with Sausage | Renee's Kitchen Adventures

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Baked Ziti with Sausage

Baked Ziti with Sausage falls into the ultimate comfort food category. What could be more comforting than a serving of ziti pasta covered in a rich and zesty homemade tomato and sausage sauce, layered with creamy ricotta cheese and topped with melty Italian blend cheese?  Serve it up with a garden salad on the side and some crusty bread and you'll be in pasta heaven!

Baked Ziti with Sausage by Renee's Kitchen Adventures on serving spoon

Are you a fan of lasagna but hate all the work fussing with those long noodles?

I have to admit. That's me. I do love a good lasagna now and again, but it's just so labor intensive. That's why I love this recipe for Baked Ziti with Sausage. It's not as labor intensive as lasagna, but it's still got all those flavors I love...pasta, cheese, sausage, and a rich tomato sauce.

I have no Italian heritage, but I've been told I can make a sauce as good as any Italian American. Serving Italian American dishes like this Baked Ziti with Sausage to my family has always been something I've enjoyed over the years.

And I'll never pass up a good cheesy lasagna! You might remember when I posted this recipe for Turkey Sausage and Spinach Lasagna. That recipe is so delicious but I can tell you up front, way more work than this recipe I'm sharing today.


Baked Ziti with Sausage by Renee's Kitchen Adventures in pan



What type of pasta is ziti? 



Ziti, also known as "bridegrooms," is a tubular pasta similar to penne, but with straight cut ends. It's usually got a smooth surface, but sometimes has ridges on its outer surface. It's smaller in size than it's cousin rigatoni. It generally takes 9 to 11 minutes to cook from its dried state. It's the perfect pasta shape for dishes like this Baked Ziti with Sausage.



Baked Ziti with Sausage by Renee's Kitchen Adventures on spoon


How do you make the best baked ziti? 



The best baked ziti starts with the best ingredients. Make sure you use the freshest ingredients when called for. In this recipe for Baked Ziti with Sausage, I recommend dried basil, but if you have fresh basil, by all means, use that in place of the dried. You'll just want to add it at the end of the sauce cooking time, rather than at the beginning.


How do you make baked ziti with ricotta cheese?



The fat content in the ricotta cheese you choose for this Baked Ziti with Sausage recipe is also important. To get a nice creamy texture (as opposed to gritty) make sure you choose a whole milk ricotta cheese instead of a lower fat version. Normally, I do look for lower fat dairy products when I cook, but in this instance, you need to have full fat dairy to make this dish the best it can be!


How do you make Baked Ziti with Sausage?


Making Baked Ziti with Sausage isn't difficult, but does require a bit of planning. This Baked Ziti recipe calls for making your own sauce, but let's get real...in a pinch, you could use your favorite jarred marinara sauce. I would never judge!

Once all the components of the recipe are prepared and assembled, you just layer everything into a glass 9" x 13" baking pan and bake.  There's nothing fancy about the layering process. It's a rustic dish afterall.



Baked Ziti with Sausage by Renee's Kitchen Adventures layering the casserole for oven


Tips for making Baked Ziti with Sausage:


  • Make sure you generously salt the water you use to cook the ziti pasta in. This is your only chance to get seasoning into the pasta itself. 
  • Take care to undercook the pasta by 2 MINUTES from the lowest cooking time listed on the package. The pasta will continue to cook once it goes into the oven. This will help prevent mushy pasta in your Baked Ziti with Sausage recipe. 
  • Adding a pinch of sugar or baking soda to the tomato sauce mixture will help cut down on the acidity. Taste to see if you think it needs it before adding. 
  • Look for whole milk ricotta cheese for this recipe. The full fat dairy product will keep the ricotta cheese creamy in this "casserole" dish.
  • Do use an Italian blend shredded cheese for the top. The blend of cheeses actually melts and browns better than just plain mozzarella cheese. 
  • If you can't find bulk Italian sausage at your market, you can buy links and just remove the casings.


Baked Ziti with Sausage by Renee's Kitchen Adventures in pan



Baked Ziti with Sausage
Main Dish
Italian American
Yield: 12 servings

Baked Ziti with Sausage

Baked Ziti with Sausage is an easy way to get all the flavors of lasagna with less work. Al dente ziti pasta is covered in a rich and zesty sausage and tomato sauce, layered with creamy ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, and an Italian blend cheese then baked to perfection.
prep time: 20 minscook time: 35 minstotal time: 55 mins

ingredients:


  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • dash red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 tsp. dried basil 
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup red wine or chicken stock
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 15 oz. can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 16 oz. dried ziti pasta
  • 15 oz. whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 8 oz. shredded Italian blend cheese

instructions


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 9" x 13" glass casserole pan with cooking spray and  set aside. 
  2. Make sauce. In large skillet, over med high heat, brown bulk sausage breaking up chunks as it cooks.  Halfway through browning, add diced onion. Continue cooking until onion is translucent and sausage is browned. Drain off most of excess fat if needed then return to heat.  
  3. Add in garlic, basil, and tomato paste and stir. Cook for 1 - 2 minutes. Add in wine and bring to simmer. Simmer for 1 - 2 minutes. 
  4. Stir in canned crushed tomatoes and canned diced tomatoes with juice. Bring to simmer and loosely cover. Allow sauce to simmer, stirring occasionally, while you prepare the ziti. 
  5. Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Add ziti.  Cook for 2 MINUTES LESS than the box directions state for al dente.  Drain well and set aside. 
  6. Combine the whole milk ricotta cheese with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese in small bowl.  Season with salt and pepper, to your liking. Mix in 2 egg yolks, set aside. 
  7. Take sauce off heat and test for salt and pepper. Add as you like.  You may add a pinch of sugar to reduce acidity if needed. 
  8. Assemble casserole: Add half the prepared ziti pasta to the 9" x 13" pan in even layer. Spoon half the sauce mixture evenly over the ziti pasta. Spread the ricotta cheese mixture evenly over the sauce. Add the rest of the ziti pasta, topping with the rest of the sauce. Cover tightly with foil. 
  9. Bake in oven for 25 minutes, or until it's hot and bubbly. Remove foil and add shredded Italian blend cheese to top.  Return to oven and bake another 10 - 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Remove from oven and cover loosely. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.  

NOTES:

Nutrition information is an estimate
calories
419
fat (grams)
19
sat. fat (grams)
10
carbs (grams)
37
protein (grams)
22
Created using The Recipes Generator


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