When I was growing up, we cooked and ate what I compassionately call Italian peasant food. What is that you say? It means that we use whatever ingredients we have on hand when we cook. My recipe for baked ziti is just that. I made calzones on Sunday, and I didn’t use all of the ingredients. I so hate to waste food —hence, Tuesday’s baked ziti.
Here’s what was leftover from the calzones: about one cup of browned crumbled Italian sausage, 2 cups of ricotta, an 8-ounce package of shredded mozzarella (already mixed in the ricotta), and 4-cups of home-made Pomodoro sauce. I buy pasta when it’s BOGO at Publix, so I had a box of ziti in the pantry. I also make this dish with rigatoni and penne (whatever I have at the time).
Putting it together is easy. Cook the pasta al dente and drain well. Return the pasta to the pot then add the cheese, sausage, and most of the sauce. Mix until the ingredients are blended. I line the bottom of the pan with a little of the sauce, then I pour the ziti mixture on top. Bake until cheese melts and sauce is bubbly. Every one loved the baked ziti except for my grand son, who told me I ruined the pasta by baking it. Sigh. He’s a tough critic.
Baked Ziti Recipe
- 1 pound ziti
- 2 cups ricotta
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella
- 1/2 pound Italian sausage
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 cups pomodoro sauce
- salt pepper, granulated garlic
Cooke ziti al dente according to the directions on the package. Drain well and return to cooking pot or large bowl.
Brown and crumble Italian sausage in olive oil. Drain excess oil.
In a separate bowl, mix ricotta and mozzarella. Season with granulated garlic, salt, and pepper as desired.
Add cheese and sausage to ziti and mix well. Add about 3 cups of sauce; mix.
Add remaining sauce to the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch pan. Pour ziti mixture over sauce; smooth with spoon. Bake at 350 degrees until cheese melts and sauce is bubbly, about 30 minutes.
I shared this recipe at these awesome parties.