Baked ziti is one of those delicious comfort foods that you can eat year-round. There are a million different recipes for it, but I learned this one from a lovely Italian gentleman years ago when I lived in Florida. I’ve tweaked it a bit to add more spices for flavor, but this recipe is fantastic and easy to make.
Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage
1 lb. ziti
1 ¼ lb. Italian sausage, casing removed
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ large onion, diced
15 oz. container ricotta cheese
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
¼ teaspoon chili pepper flakes
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
¼ cup grated romano cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
3 ¾ cups tomato sauce
12 oz. thinly sliced fresh mozzarella cheese
Fresh basil for topping
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cook ziti according to the package directions. Drain and put back into cooking pot.
While the pasta is boiling, cook the sausage, breaking it into pieces, in a large skillet over medium heat until cooked through. Remove the sausage from the pan with a slotted spoon and add to the pot with the pasta.
In the same pan, saute onion until translucent then add garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add to the ziti and sausage.
In a bowl, mix ricotta cheese, spices, parsley, romano cheese, and shredded mozzarella cheese. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Add egg and mix well then add mixture to the pot with ziti and sausage.
Add the tomato sauce and toss the pasta and sausage with the sauce.
Pour the mixture into the baking dish, top with the slices of fresh mozzarella cheese. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, remove the foil and put the dish back in the oven to cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes until cheese is melted and ziti is bubbly.
Garnish with fresh basil. Enjoy!