this baked ziti is most definitely, hands down one of my favorite pasta dishes. quite a statement right? but it’s true. there is just too much to love about this pasta – from all of the cheesiness goodness to the flavorful sausage and fresh basil to the combination of the cream and tomato sauces and of course you can’t forget the crunchy edges, there is nothing wrong about this baked ziti.
a few months ago, i started doing majority of the week’s cooking on sunday. i make 2-3 dishes and then we split them up into several servings and we have lunch and dinner ready to go. although it is a lot of work that day, it makes the rest of the week soooooo much easier. after a long day at work, walking pua, going to the gym, etc. we don’t have to worry about trying to figure out what to make for dinner or lunch for the next day. amazing.
i made this baked ziti quite a while ago and i think i need to make it again soon because looking at these pictures is making me crave some more. it was one of the few dishes i didn’t mind eating multiple times in a week – often we end up freezing the last one or two servings of a dish because chris and i just can’t stand to eat it any longer (this isn’t a terrible thing though, because we have lots of homemade lunches and dinners ready to eat in the freezer).
first mix together the cottage (i used ricotta) cheese, eggs, and some of the parmesan cheese. set aside.
p.s. grating your own parmesan cheese instead of buying the already grated cheese in the green container (you know which one i’m talking about ;-)) makes a huge difference! so if you can, buy a wedge of parmesan cheese and grate your own fresh. you’ll be glad you did.
then boil up the pasta. i used medium shells because i didn’t have any ziti on hand. it worked fine.
now time to make the sausage tomato sauce. first brown the turkey sweet italian sausage in a medium skillet.
then add the onion and garlic. cook until the onion is nice and tender and the sausage is fully cooked.
now pour in the diced tomatoes (including the juice), tomato sauce, and oregano.
the sauce needs to simmer for about 10 minutes. then turn the heat off and add the fresh chopped basil, sugar, salt, and pepper.
the sauce is ready!
moving on to the cream sauce… add the cream and cornstarch to the pot you cooked the pasta in. yay for not dirtying up more pots!
mix well then over medium heat, simmer the cream mixture until it’s thickened up a little – approximately 3-4 minutes. turn off the heat and add some of the sausage tomato sauce, a bit of the cubed mozzarella cheese, and the cottage (or ricotta) cheese mixture.
stir to combine…
and then add the pasta and mix to coat all of the pasta with the creamy tomato sauce.
pour the pasta into a 9×13 baking pan (i split up the pasta into 2 racheal ray’s bubble and brown baking dishes instead).
next pour the remaining tomato sausage sauce over the pasta.
finally sprinkle on the remaining parmesan and mozzarella cheese.
cover the baking dish with foil,
and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. remove the foil and then bake for another 30 minutes.
although you’ll want to dig right in, allow it to cool for 20 minutes. then sprinkle the rest of the chopped basil over the baked ziti and serve hot/warm.
for the recipe visit one of my favorite blogs, annie’s eats.