Prep 30 mins
Cook 1 hr
Baked Ziti is a wonderful dish all its own. When done correctly, it is actually very different from lasagna. If you get good ingredients and follow this recipe, you will end up with a delicious and unique authentic Italian meal that tastes like nothing you've ever had before! A word about the ingredients: fresh mozzarella cheese is not the same thing as part-skim mozarella cheese. Use fresh mozarella in this recipe. Marzano tomatoes are a must for this recipe as well, but in a pinch, Progresso whole Italian tomatoes will do. Fresh herbs can be found in the produce section of most stores, but dried herbs can be substituted.
- 1 lb ziti pasta
- 1 lb fresh mozzarella cheese
- 3⁄4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1⁄2 lb sweet Italian sausage
- 1⁄2 lb hot Italian sausage
- 1⁄2 medium onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 28 ounces whole peeled san marzano tomatoes
- 6 ounces marzano tomato paste
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 sprig fresh basil
- Remove the sausage casings and crumble the sausage.
- Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to a pan, and brown the sausage.
- Puree the tomatoes in a blender (not too much).
- Add onions and garlic to now-browned sausage. Cook for a few more minutes until transparent.
- Add your tomato puree to the sausage.
- Add thyme and basil to sauce.
- Add some salt and pepper to taste.
- Add a generous pinch of the pepper flakes.
- Stir this up, heat to near-boil, then let it simmer covered on low for 15 minutes.
- BUILDING THE DISH.
- Boil your ziti pasta to not quite al-dente. Don't overboil, pasta will soften while baking.
- Cut the mozarella, half of it into 1/2 inch cubes, the other half in as thin of slices as you can manage.
- Remove the herb sprigs from the sauce and discard.
- Add the can of tomato paste to your sauce to thicken it up and give it a lively red color and more intense flavor.
- Add the pasta, your sauce, the cubed mozarella and half the parmesan in a baking dish.
- Top with the sliced mozarella and the remainder of the parmesan.
- Bake for about 30 minutes until golden.
I've made this dish many times throughout the years, and I love it!!! Sometimes I've even used Ricotta Cheese to give it my quicker version of Lasagna flair. I've used the sweet, and hot decased Italian sausages, and even ground beef... Which is how I'm preparing it today! I'm baking it for my girlfriends birthday, and she can no longer eat pork, what a shame Hahahaaaa. O use varying cheeses also, like, parmesan, Romano, and pecorino( hard to find this one tho) I've also combined ground turkey, or, ground chicken meat with the ground beef, it's a tasty alternative for those who may not eat beef... Tonight it's ground beef, and ground turkey!!! Bon Appetit
I saw this recipe and decided to make it, just to try something new for my family. It turned out looking just like the pics. Very easy to follow. My husband and kids are accustomed to Caribbean dishes because im from Guyana south America and here is jamaican. I liked it but picky husband and kids didn't like dishes. next time I'll omit the italian sausages and use chop meat instead. Great easy and quick dinner idea.
Splendid recipe, with true italian technique! I made this ziti dish during a mountain vacation with my family in Colorado. Everyone loved it and was going back for seconds. The dish is moderately spicy, so if you have any low-heat tolerant eaters you may want to cut back on the spice. The only thing I would change would be to put the basil in near the final stages of cooking the sauce, otherwise you may lose that delicious basil taste!