Having spent several years living in the NY/NJ area, I thought that this was one of those dishes that’s just ubiquitous to America. As it turns out, it’s not nearly that common out here in Colorado. (Or, for that matter, Mississippi, where I went to school.) In fact, I couldn’t even find ziti noodles at the grocery store. Or at the two other grocery stores I shop at. I had to order them from Amazon. Thankfully, I now have enough ziti in my pantry to make baked ziti a dozen more times before I need to reorder. (To be fair, this is just as good with penne, so if you can’t get a hold of ziti, go ahead and substitute.)
All three of us love this particular recipe for baked ziti, especially when we make the tomato sauce at home too.
- 1 lb ziti pasta
- Olive oil
- 1 lb bulk Italian sausage
- 1 large onion, chopped fine
- 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp Fresh rosemary (or basil), minced
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tsp Red pepper flakes
- 1 large jar of marinara sauce (about 32 ounces) (we make our own tomato sauce from this recipe)
- 1/2 lb of mozzarella cheese, grated
- 1 heaping cup of ricotta cheese
- 1 cup grated parmesan
- Bring a large pot of water to boil, salt generously, and add a little olive oil. (I’ve found that the olive oil keeps the water from foaming over later.) Add the pasta and boil until al dente (usually about 10 minutes, but check the instructions on your pasta). Drain in a colander and toss with a little olive oil to keep the ziti from sticking.
- Pour a tablespoon of olive oil into a large sauté pan and heat on medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the italian sausage to brown. Use a wooden spoon to break up the chunks as you brown, but try to stir as little as possible to let the browning happen.
- Once the sausage has browned, add the onions and cook until they are translucent.
- Add the garlic, rosemary or basil, ialian seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Cook for a minute or two more.
- Add the marinara sauce, stir well, and bring to a simmer.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Spread a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Dot the sauce with half the ricotta.
- Toss the ziti with the rest of the sauce, and add to the 9×13 pan.
- Spread the pasta in an even layer and dot with the other half of the ricotta.
- Sprinkle the mozzarella and parmesan on top in an even layer, and put the pan into the oven.
- Bake for about 20 minutes until the top is nicely browned.
Recipe Source: Simply Recipes’ Baked Ziti.