I mentioned that I had a friend in town this past week and fortunately, she loves trying new recipes as much as me. We were in the grocery store picking up a few items and decided, on a whim, to also get the ingredients for this baked ziti with sausage. I was looking forward to trying it as I've never made baked ziti with meat before. Besides, you can never go wrong with baked pasta.....yum.
We omitted the onion from the recipe so Shane would eat it but were I to add onion, I think I'd cook it with the sausage to avoid that raw onion flavor. Otherwise, we followed the recipe as written. It's easy to put together and smelled delicious when it came out of the oven. Everyone liked it (though Shane was quick to point out he still liked this lasagna more) and we've really enjoyed the reheated leftovers the past few days. I will definitely make this again but I think I'll use turkey sausage and maybe try a different cheese mixture just to change things up.
Baked Ziti with Sausage
1 (16 ounce) package dry ziti pasta
1 pound mild Italian sausage (remove meat from casings if buying links)
1 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese
1 large yellow onion, minced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 (26 ounce) jars spaghetti sauce, divided
1 (8 ounce) package shredded Italian cheese blend
1 teaspoon dried basil (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.
Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, stir in the ziti, and return to a boil. Cook the pasta uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta has cooked through, but is still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Drain well in a colander set in the sink.
While pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage, and cook and stir until brown, about 10 minutes. Drain sausage and set aside.
Stir together the ricotta, egg, onion, garlic, and oregano in a large bowl until well combined. Stir in the drained pasta, the drained sausage, salt, pepper, and 1/2 jar of the spaghetti sauce; mix well.
In the prepared baking dish, cover the bottom with 1/3 jar of spaghetti sauce. Layer 1/2 of the pasta mixture, 1/3 jar of spaghetti sauce, and 1/2 of the shredded cheese. Then layer the remaining 1/2 of the pasta, 1/3 of the sauce, and 1/2 of the cheese. Sprinkle with basil. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil.
Bake in the preheated oven until heated through, about 20 minutes. Uncover; return to the oven and bake until cheese is melted, 5 to 10 more minutes.