Baked Ziti with Sausage

I usually like to make most things from scratch, my own spaghetti sauce being one of them.  I am in school and dont have time to breath so spending an afternoon making sauce isnt really in the plans for right now.  So I “cheated”.  I used can sauce to make this dish.

Let me lead off by saying that baked pasta doesnt really do it for me very much.  I dont like how the middle turns gelatinous and the edges get crispy.  Not something I like usually.  BUT two weeks ago I was in a meeting for something for the kids and met this woman named Stephanie whom I find out had just lost her home and all her belongings in a house fire and she and her husband are living in a hotel, eating out every night.  This sounds like torture to me so I offered to make her a casserole or some sort of a home made meal.

Well lo and behold, she took me up on it!   When I didnt hear in the first week I figured she assumed I was not serious and forgot about it.  I got an email last week asking if the offer still stood!  Of course it did.   I wouldnt have offered if I wasnt serious.  Unfortunately I was back in full swing of school though and wouldnt be able to put as much time into this as I would have liked to.  SOOOO here is my solution… Baked Ziti.. easy peasy, fast and easy!   This made two 9×13 casserole dishes.  We gave the one away and will have the other tonight for dinner. 

Ingredients 
2 boxes of your favorite pasta
1 large onion
1 large green pepper
4-5 cloves garlic
3 lbs of italian sausage, sweet or hot or a combination
3 cans of your favorite sauce (Rob likes the cans of all the store sauce)
1 can of crushed tomatoes
Some sweetener if you like the sauce a bit sweeter, I used two Splenda
Salt and pepper
2-3 tbsp Italian seasoning
2-3 tbsp Parmesan cheese or in this case some of a parmesan and garlic mix
Shredded cheese (I know, I know, I said in other posts I never use this.. well I do when I am in school!)

I am totally missing the veggies in this picture…. it was 7 am what do you expect!

Start off by poking each sausage with a hole. 

Then set up your sausage baking rack.  We always bake our sausage.. so much less fat this way.  Simply line a pan with aluminum foil and put a tray on it.. arrange your sausage and bake for 35 minutes on 350.

Now peel your onion and garlic and seed your pepper and chop it up fine with a mini processor.  I generally prefer chunks but both Stephanies and my husband prefer no chunks in the sauce.. hmph!   Get them sauteing in a lightly greased dutch oven.

Check on the sausage which is now making the house smell yummo.  Give them a couple more pokes with a knife so that the fat can drain out of them and onto the aluminum lined pan.

Add the sauce, tomatoes and spices.


Simmer your sauce.. but dont leave it to be watched by the son while you go study for your exam or you will end up with a mess… which I made him clean up.. and told him to get off the phone while cooking!  LOL

Once the smell had permeated your home (and the 35-40 minutes are up) you can take your golden and delicious sausages out of the oven, leave the oven on since you will need it soon.

And slice them up once they have cooled slightly.

Stir the sausage into the sauce.

Boil salted water in a large stock pot and add your two boxes of Ziti.. or Bowties.. or Macaroni.. whatever floats your boat.

Drain pasta and mix with sauce.

Pour into the lightly greased pan.

Cover with your shredded cheese.  And bake for 40-45 minutes or until the cheese is melty and gooey!

Oh and my solution to the gelatinous and crispy issues…… dont cook your pasta fully.. a little less done than al dente.  AND a bit extra sauce around the edges.

This recipe took about 2 hours to make but that included the 40 minutes to cook the sausage and the 40-45 to bake the ziti.  It is filling and hearty and since you got rid of alot of the fat from the sausage it is only mildly artery clogging.  HAHA   All in all an easy dish to make and very tasty!   I cant wait to hear if Stephanie and her spouse liked it. 

Happy Sharing!!

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Nicole Abon
    Feb 09, 2011 @ 13:50:31

    This sounds so good! Is that the Wilton stackable racks you put the sausages on in the oven? I didn’t know they were oven safe. That opens up a world of possibilities for those racks now lol. Thanks for sharing!

    BTW I found your blog on the WC board!

    Reply

    • kimmicooks
      Feb 09, 2011 @ 13:55:01

      HAHA to be honest I never questioned whether they were oven safe. I just needed them one day and put them in. BUT I have been using them for almost 2 1/2 years. I lost my crappy ones in the move into our house and I had two sets of these.. They have lost their non stick but i just spray them with Pam or OO and they work great for anything.. i even broil with them.
      Thanks for checking my blog out!! I am pretty new to WC and like the diversity! See you there!

      Reply

  2. Nicole Abon
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 12:33:45

    Hey Kimmi!

    I came back to this recipe to add the ingredients to my grocery list and noticed the pasta wasn’t included in the ingredient list. Based on the pictures, and your instructions, I know it’s 2 boxes, but I thought I’d let you know incase you didn’t notice. I almost didn’t read through the recipe and would’ve missed it and then I’d try to make baked ziti without the ziti! lol

    Reply

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