Baked Ziti with Sweet Italian Sausage is a dinner the whole family will love! This flavorful dish can be made ahead of time and is great for sharing with guests and taking to those in need.
Keyword: Baked Ziti
Author: Garnish and Glaze
For the Sauce:
1poundSweet Italian Sausage, casings removed
128 ouncecan crushed tomatoes
115 ouncecan petite diced tomatoes
115 ouncecan tomato sauce
For the Filling:
2 1/2cupsshredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/4cupParmesan cheese, grated (I like Parmigiano Reggiano)
1tablespoonfresh parsley, chopped
1poundZiti pasta, (penne, rigatoni, and mostaccioli work too)
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and cook sausage and onions together until meat is browned. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (30 seconds). Drain off fat.
Stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, paste, Italian seasoning, sugar, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, turn to low, cover, and allow to simmer 15-20 minutes until meat is tender.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and grease a 9x13 inch baking dish. Begin boiling salted water for pasta. Cook pasta about 2 minutes less than as directed on the package. Drain and rinse with cold water.
In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese, 1 cup mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, fresh parsley, and salt. Set aside.
Pour half the pasta into the baking dish, top with half the sauce and then spoon the cheese mixture on, spreading it out in an even layer. Top with the remaining noodles, sauce, and 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese. Spray a sheet of foil with cooking oil and then place on top of the ziti.
Bake for 30-35 minutes until bubbly and cheese is melted. Let it cool 10 minutes and then serve garnished with extra Parmesan cheese and parsley.
TO MAKE IN ADVANCE: Assemble all the layers, top it with foil, and then place it in the fridge until ready to bake. Set the ziti on the counter while the oven preheats or put the dish in the oven when starting the oven and add 5 minutes to the total time.FOR FREEZING: Assemble in a disposable aluminum pan. I recommend dividing it among two 8×8 inch pans. After assembling, cover with foil or plastic wrap and then place in a giant Ziploc bag. Label the bag and use within 3 months. To defrost, place in the fridge the day before or stick it in the oven from frozen and bake for 50-60 minutes.