Classic Baked Ziti


Posted: September 27

Time: 1 hour and 5 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

recipe image

Classic Baked Ziti is a mainstay of Sunday dinners, with the kind of rich, slow-cooked-tasting sauce that makes people linger at the table for hours. This Classic Baked Ziti takes just over an hour, and yet it has the same savory, meaty flavors that makes everyone lean back in their chairs as recipes with longer cooked times. With tender cooked pasta and deeply creamy ricotta, this dish does more than just delight. A slice of Classic Baked Ziti brings the evening to an incredible finish!


Ingredients

• 1 pound Italian sausage, sliced • 1 yellow onion, finely diced • 1 (3 ounce) can tomato paste • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning blend • 1/2 cup water, plus more for pasta • 1 pound ziti • 1/2 tablespoon salt, for the pasta water • 15 ounces ricotta • 1 cup Italian cheese blend • black pepper, freshly cracked, to taste • 2 cups mozzarella, shredded • parsley, optional, chopped, for garnish

Directions

Step 1

Cook the sausage in a large skillet or pot over medium heat on the stove top until it's brown and crispy on the edges. No need to add any cooking oil - there is enough fat in the sausage.

Step 2

Add the onion to the skillet once the sausage has browned, and continue to sauté over medium heat until the onion is soft and translucent, about 3-4 minutes.

Step 3

Add the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and 1/2 cup water to the skillet with the sausage and stir to combine.

Step 4

Place a lid on the skillet and allow it to come up to a medium simmer.

Step 5

Once simmering, turn the heat down and allow it to continue simmering on low heat while you cook the ziti. Stir the sauce occasionally as it simmers.

Step 6

After getting the sauce started, bring a large pot of water with 1/2 tablespoon of salt to a boil over high heat on the stove-top.

Step 7

Once the water is boiling, add the ziti and let it boil until the ziti is al dente, about 7-8 minutes unless specified otherwise by package directions.

Step 8

Drain the ziti in a colander.

Step 9

While the pasta and sauce are cooking,

Step 10

add the ricotta, Italian cheese blend, and cracked black pepper to a bowl, stirring to combine.

Step 11

Move the oven rack to the middle.

Step 12

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Step 13

After draining the ziti, return it to the pot and add 1 cup of the sausage sauce, stirring to coat the cooked pasta in the sauce.

Step 14

Pour half of the ziti into a 9x13 inch baking dish.

Step 15

Add half of the ricotta mixture on top of the ziti in small dollops.

Step 16

Spoon half of the sausage sauce and the sausage over the pasta and ricotta. It's okay if the ingredients don't form a solid layer in the dish.

Step 17

Repeat these layers with the second half of the pasta, ricotta mixture, and sauce and sausage.

Step 18

Finally, top with the shredded mozzarella.

Step 19

Cover the baking dish with foil, making sure it's slightly tented so that it doesn't touch or stick to the melted cheese.

Step 20

Transfer the covered casserole to the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Step 21

After baking for 20 minutes, remove the foil, and turn the oven on to broil. Keep the casserole on the middle rack, about 10-12 inches from the broiler.

Step 22

Broil until the cheese is slightly browned. about 5 minutes. Keep a close eye on the baked ziti as it broils, because broilers can vary in intensity.

Step 23

Remove the ziti from the oven, top with chopped parsley, and serve.


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