A Hearty Winter Dinner: Baked Ziti
Lately, I have been craving pasta, and lots of it; the cold weather is making me want to stuff my face with carbs and hibernate for the winter! I have been switching back and forth between two recipes: spaghetti with pasta sauce, and fusilli with pesto and olives. After about 2 weeks of this, I got bored, so I went looking for more flavorful pasta dinners. When I found this baked ziti recipe, I knew it was a winner!
This recipe from Italian Recipe4Living is described as follows: “A classic Italian pasta dish with bubbly cheese, spicy Italian sausage and lots of garlic.”
Ok, cheese? Check.
Basically, this is my dream meal. It’s not the healthiest of dinners, but I give myself a little bit more leeway when it’s cold outside! Here’s the recipe!
* Salt and pepper
* 1 lb. Italian sausage, preferably bulk or ground meat of any type, or a combination
* 1 large onion, diced
* 1 Tbs. minced garlic, optional
* 1 28 oz. can tomatoes, chopped, with liquid
* 1 lb. ziti or other large cut pasta
* 1 lb. mozzarella, grated or chopped
* Olive oil or butter as needed
* 1/2 C. freshly grated Parmesan, optional
Bring large pot of water to boil; salt it. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Distribute meat in large skillet over medium high heat and cook, undisturbed, until browned on one side, about 5 minutes. Stir, cook another 2 minutes undisturbed, then add the onion and garlic, if using. Lower heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft; add tomatoes and bring to a boil. Simmer while cooking pasta, stirring and seasoning with salt and pepper to taste; do not let sauce become too thick.
Cook pasta until just tender; it should still be too hard to eat. Drain it (do not shake the colander; allow some water to cling to the noodles) and toss it with the sauce and half the mozzarella. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish and spoon mixture into it. Top with remaining mozzarella and the Parmesan if using. Bake until top is browned and cheese is bubbly, 20-30 minutes.
If you’re looking for even more tasty Italian dishes, including pastas, pizzas, desserts, appetizers, and even drinks, visit Italian Recipe4Living!
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