While visiting my family back home in Florida at the end of the summer I had the pleasure of eating not one but two home cooked ziti meals. One by my lovely sister and one by my dad. They were both so good my mouth waters to even think about it. My sister used sausage in hers while my dad made a homemade meat sauce that simmered on the stove for his. Since I have neither of their recipes I decided to make my own ziti. One ingredient neither of them used was ricotta cheese. I added this to mine because I love pasta that has a creaminess to it. This did just the trick. It came out of the oven and was ooey and gooey and with every other bite was a hefty portion of sweet Italian sausage. Oh boy. This is a very hearty meal so fill your plate up once then go back for seconds if you dare…. Add a salad and some garlic bread and its a full on feast!
Oh what about my vegetarian husband??? You can breathe a sigh of relief as he did not have to eat cereal tonight…..I was nice enough to make him his very own “CHEESE ONLY” baked ziti
Baked Ziti with Sweet Italian Sausage (finecooking)
- Olive oil
- 1 large onion, cut in small dice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3/4 lb. sweet Italian pork sausage, removed from its casing and crumbled
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup dry red wine
- 2 1/2 – 3 cups of Pasta Sauce
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh marjoram or oregano (from about 6 large sprigs)
- 1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
- 1 cup freshly grated mild pecorino cheese
- Pinch nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 lb. dried ziti
- 1/2 lb. mozzarella, preferably fresh, grated
1 pair of strech pants with elastic waist bands (<—– LOL… I’m seroius!)
- Preheat the oven to 425°F degrees and lightly oil a large baking dish. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- In a large pan over medium heat add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes or until translucent. Add the garlic ,salt and pepper and the sausage to the pan cooking until the sausage is no longer pink. Drain the fat (if any) from the sausage.
- Add the red wine to the sausage mixture and let it boil until it has reduced quite a bit. Add the tomatoes sauce and allow the sauce to simmer uncovered for about 25 minutes. Just before the sauce is done add in the marjoram or oregano.
- In a large bowl, mix the ricotta, about half of the grated pecorino, the nutmeg, and the parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the ziti pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta well and toss it with the ricotta mixture until well coated. Add the tomato sauce and gently mix very well.
- Pour the ziti mixture into the baking dish and sprinkle the mozzarella & remaining pecorino on top. Bake uncovered until lightly browned and bubbling, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Serve.