Baked Ziti & Sausage

My neighbor, Lisa, often tells me about her grandmother’s recipes. The stories about family gatherings, laughter echoing through the house, and the mouth-watering aroma of Italian dishes wafting from the kitchen, evoke such fond memories. One day, she invited me over for dinner, and to my delight, I was treated to a hearty serving of baked ziti with sausage. It wasn’t just any baked ziti, it was a recipe passed down from her grandmother. Rich in flavors, it made me think, “Why have I not added this to my culinary repertoire?”

Fast forward a few weeks, and after multiple trials and tweaks, I’ve perfected my own version of Lisa’s grandmother’s baked ziti with sausage. This dish is not only heartwarming but also incredibly simple to make, ensuring that even on a busy day, a delightful meal can grace your table.

How to Prepare Baked Ziti with Sausage

Ingredients for Baked Ziti with Sausage

  • Oil spray for greasing
  • 1 pack (16 ounce) of ziti noodles
  • 1 lb sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 tub (15 ounce) creamy ricotta cheese
  • 1 finely chopped large yellow onion
  • 1 fresh egg
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp oregano flakes
  • 1/2 tsp seasoning salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 jars (26 ounce each) of marinara sauce, set aside half
  • 1 pack (8 ounce) mixed Italian cheese, grated
  • 1 tsp dried basil leaves

Directions for Baked Ziti with Sausage

  1. Set your oven to warm up to 350°F (175°C). Use the oil spray to grease a 9×13-inch oven dish.
  2. In a large pot, boil lightly salted water. Add ziti noodles and keep stirring from time to time until they’re al dente, which should take around 8 minutes. Drain the water.
  3. As the pasta boils, brown the sausage in a skillet over medium flame. Once cooked, drain the excess fat and set aside.
  4. In a mixing bowl, blend the ricotta cheese, onion, egg, garlic, and oregano. Add in the cooked pasta, sausage, salt, pepper, and half of the marinara sauce. Ensure everything is mixed thoroughly.
  5. In the oven dish, spread 1/3 of the marinara sauce. Follow with half of the pasta mix, then half of the leftover sauce, and finally half of the cheese. Repeat this layering. Garnish with basil on top and seal the dish with foil.
  6. Place in the oven and let it bake for 20 minutes. Uncover, and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and slightly golden.

Can I use a different type of sausage?

Yes, you can opt for spicy Italian sausage or even turkey sausage depending on your preference. However, the flavor profile may slightly change based on the type of sausage used.

Is it possible to make this dish vegetarian?

Definitely! Just skip the sausage or replace it with a plant-based substitute. You can also add vegetables like bell peppers or zucchini for added texture and flavor.

How long can I store the baked ziti in the refrigerator?

Baked ziti with sausage can be refrigerated for up to 4 days. Make sure to store it in an airtight container to maintain its freshness.

Can this dish be frozen?

Yes, once cooled, you can freeze the baked ziti. Remember to store in an airtight container or wrap securely with foil. It can last in the freezer for up to 2 months.

How do I reheat the baked ziti?

For best results, thaw overnight in the refrigerator if frozen, then reheat in a preheated oven at 350°F until heated through. You can also use a microwave, but the oven method retains the dish’s texture better.

Any suggestions for side dishes to accompany this?

A crisp green salad with a light vinaigrette or garlic bread pairs wonderfully with baked ziti. Roasted vegetables or steamed broccoli also complement the dish well.

Baked Ziti & Sausage

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6
...

Ingredients
  

  • cooking spray
  • 1 16 ounce package dry ziti pasta
  • 1 pound mild Italian sausage
  • 1 15 ounce container ricotta cheese
  • 1 large yellow onion minced
  • 1 large egg
  • 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

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish.
  • Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a rolling boil over high heat. Stir in ziti and return to a boil. Cook pasta uncovered, stirring occasionally, until cooked through but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Drain well.
  • While pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add sausage; cook and stir until brown, about 10 minutes. Drain sausage and set aside.
  • Stir together ricotta, onion, egg, garlic, and oregano in a large bowl until well combined. Stir in pasta, sausage, salt, pepper, and the half jar of spaghetti sauce; mix well.
  • Cover the bottom of the prepared baking dish with 1/3 of the full jar spaghetti sauce. Layer with 1/2 of the pasta mixture, 1/2 of the remaining spaghetti sauce, and 1/2 of the shredded cheese. Repeat layers once more using remaining pasta, sauce, and cheese. Sprinkle basil over top and 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.
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