Baked Ziti with Sausage is a mainstay of Sunday dinners for many households for obvious reasons: it's layer upon layer of tender pasta, rich and savory tomato sauce simmered to just the right amount of sweetness, sharp and melty cheese, and of course sausage. Baked Ziti with Sausage is a hero of a home-cooked meal that brings everyone to the table the moment it comes out of the oven. Don't be surprised if your loved ones argue over the leftovers... if there are any left!
Ingredients• 1 pound ziti noodles • 1 1/2 pounds ground spicy or sweet Italian sausage • 4 cloves garlic, minced • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes • 1 teaspoon salt • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes • 1 cup heavy cream • 1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated and divided • 1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped, plus more for serving • 2 cups whole milk mozzarella cheese, shredded
Cook the ziti according to the package directions, until very al dente, about 7 minutes. Undercooking slightly is key since the ziti will cook more later during the baking stage.
Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Set it aside.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F, setting the oven rack in the middle position.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat on the stovetop.
Crumble the sausage in the pan and cook, breaking it apart with a spoon, until lightly browned, and just cooked through, about 5-6 minutes.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked sausage to a plate. Set it aside.
Reserve 1 tablespoon of the fat from the sauté pan and drain the rest.
Set the pan (with the reserved fat) back onto the stovetop over low heat.
Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the crushed tomatoes, salt, sugar, and red pepper flakes.
Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
Add the heavy cream, 1/3 cup of the Pecorino Romano, cooked sausage, and the basil to the pan stirring until evenly combined.
Pour the contents of the pan into the pot with the ziti and stir until combined.
Spoon half of the pasta mixture into a 9x13-inch baking dish.
Sprinkle half of the mozzarella and half of the remaining Pecorino Romano on top of the pasta in the baking dish.
Spread the remaining pasta mixture over top.
Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Pecorino Romano cheeses over the top pasta layer.
Bake the ziti uncovered until the cheese is melted and browned, about 15-20 minutes.
Sprinkle with basil and serve!