Baked Pasta & Sausage is classic Italian comfort food that plays on big familiar flavors, but adds a twist to traditional baked ziti. It’s a big dish for lots of sharing or lots of leftovers!Jump to Recipe
For a lot of people, pasta is the epitome of comfort food. It's warm, reminiscent, and usually cheesy. Not to mention it's easy, yields leftovers, and it's cheap. It often also has the reputation of being unhealthy, but it doesn’t have to.
A big pasta dish like this is not something you have to sacrifice because of fear that it's too heavy. Just because a dish is “too heavy” doesn’t mean that it's high in calories either. So long as your portions are maintained, you can eat hearty casseroles like this whenever you want – and moreover, you SHOULD!
BAKED PASTA & SAUSAGE
My original thought for this recipe was that it was going to be a skillet kind of dinner. But my own chaotic personal life with a newborn turned this into a big dish that would yield tons of leftovers. This prevented me from having to cook for a couple of nights actually. This recipe, without doubling it, served as three nights of dinners for us and one lunch!
For me, these flavors are hard to get sick of. The sauce starts with crumbled sausage – which is already different from a traditional recipe, which normally does not have any meat in it. Then it all gets layered into a deep dutch oven to bake in the oven to get hot, bubbly, and stringy. The pockets of ricotta melt into the casserole a bit and are my favorite part of baked ziti.
Everything about this dish screams home and comfort food to me and trust me, will not be something I eliminate on a diet.
TIPS FOR MAKING THIS DISH
- Sausage – the sauce calls for sauteing crumbled sausage to start out. I recommend using sausage meat that is not encased. It makes it a whole lot easier to just stir right into the pot. If you can’t find that, buy sausage links and take the casings off by slitting them with a knife.
- Tomato sauce – I used cans of crushed tomatoes, but you can definitely use san Marzano tomatoes if you’d like. It would make the taste even more outstanding.
This sauce cooks down in about 20 minutes, which is just a happy medium between a thin and a thick sauce. That’s our goal for ziti so that it coats everything nicely. Plus, remember it will continue cooking in the oven. This will allow the flavors of garlic and sausage to really come together.
This recipe makes enough for 8 people – so it's definitely a lot of food! It will keep in the refrigerator for about 5 days. I have not tried to freeze it, but it should freeze and defrost well. As long as you have extra sauce to stir in after it's reheated, the pasta will not dry out.
AS ALWAYS, IF YOU MAKE THIS – PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW!
Baked Pasta & Sausage
- Drizzle Olive oil
- 6 cloves Garlic minced
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 1 lb ground pork sausage crumbled
- 6 cups tomato sauce
- 2 tsp Garlic powder
- 1 tsp Oregano
- ½ tsp Salt
- ½ tsp Pepper
- 1 tsp Basil
- 1 tsp Parsley
- 1 lb ziti
- ½ cup Mozzarella
- 2 tbsp grated Parmesan
- ½ cup Ricotta
Heat a large stockpot on low heat, add in a drizzle of oil and minced fresh garlic. Simmer for 1-2 minutes, add in chopped yellow onion.
Mix in ground pork sausage, breaking it up as you add it. If you have sausages in casing, remove the casings and crumble the meat into the pot. Stir all together and raise heat to medium.
When the sausage begins to brown, add in the tomato sauce. Season with garlic powder, oregano, salt, pepper, basil, and parsley. Stir to combine well. Raise heat to high and cover. Once boiling, lower heat to low and cook for 20 minutes.
Boil water in a saucepan for pasta. Add a pinch of salt and drizzle of olive oil for flavor. Drain and set aside.
In a large dutch oven (or similar type of deep baking dish), start to layer in ingredients by starting with 1 ladle full of sauce, followed by a layer of pasta. Sprinkle 1 tsp of parmesan and 2 tbsp of mozzarella evenly. Scatter 2 tbsp of ricotta on pasta, but do not spread it - creating pockets of ricotta.
Repeat process of layering until it reaches the top of the baking dish. End of the last layer with sauce and all three cheeses. Bake at 350 covered for 20 minutes or when sauce and cheese is melted and bubbly.
To reheat: heat in oven at 350 for 20 minutes, covered. Add in extra sauce as needed.
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?
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