Three Cheese Baked Ziti with Sausage
Pasta is what is for dinner!
Baked Ziti was my go-to dinner when my children were young. It could be prepared in advance, frozen, defrosted, baked and served. What could be easier when you are busy working or traveling to know that your dinner is waiting for you? This meal was a life saver for me.
1 lb. Ziti
1 lb. Mozzarella cubed
1 lb. ricotta (I use whole milk)
1 cup Romano cheese
1 lb. Circle B Ranch Sweet Italian Bulk Sausage (you could use Hot Italian if you like the heat)
1/2 onion minced
Salt and Ground Black Pepper to taste
Fresh Chopped Parsley
A couple of shakes of Garlic Powder (you do not need a lot of this)
2-24 oz jars of Marina’s Tomato Sauce
Boil the pasta in a large pot of water to just al dente. (I like it even a little more raw since you will be baking the ziti). Drain and set the pasta aside in a large bowl. (I do not like to rinse the pasta. When I put it in the bowl I usually like to add a couple of ladles of tomato sauce.)
While the pasta is cooking you can start cooking the onion in a tablespoon of olive oil for a few minutes. After the onion becomes translucent add the sausage to the pan. Break up the sausage into small chunks as the meat browns. Drain off the excess fat if needed. (If you use Circle B Ranch sausage you will see that there is very little fat in the pan.)
Mix the ricotta, mozzarella, a few tablespoons of Romano cheese, egg, salt and pepper together in a bowl. Add a couple of shakes of garlic powder. To this mixture add a couple of ladles of Marina’s tomato Sauce. Then add the Ziti and sausage mixture. Add a couple of more ladles of Marina’s Tomato Sauce if needed. You want the pasta mixture to be a little loose, but not really watery.
Put a ladle of tomato sauce to a 9 by 13 baking dish. Add the pasta mixture, ladle of sauce and sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of Romano cheese. Keep layering the mixture and the top layer should have tomato sauce and Romano Cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and aluminum foil.
I find that this dish is better baked the next day after the pasta has set up. When you do cook the casserole preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bring the casserole to room temperature and put it in the oven for about 60 minutes. For the first 30 minutes keep the casserole covered with plastic wrap and aluminum foil. The last 30 minutes take the foil and the plastic wrap off. The baked ziti is done when a fork is inserted into the pasta and the cheese comes out all ooey and gooey and the sauce is bubbling!