Easy Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage and Mushrooms recipe that’s perfect for a weeknight dinner or gathering.
What is Baked Ziti?
Baked ziti is a popular dish made with ziti pasta and a tomato-based sauce. It’s a type of baked pasta. Normally, the pasta is cooked separately until it is almost but not quite done. Then, the almost-cooked pasta is combined with a tomato-based sauce.
The tomato-coated pasta is then topped with cheese, typically a blend of ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan. Other ingredients, such as minced beef, sausage, mushrooms, peppers, and onions, can be used in addition to the cheese. Finally, the mixture is put in a baking dish, covered with mozzarella cheese, cooked, and served.
Can you make Ahead Baked Ziti?
Assembled and refrigerated, covered, up to 2 days in advance. To bake, cover tightly with aluminum foil and place in a preheated 425 °F oven for 25 minutes, then uncover and bake the Baked Ziti for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the cheese is lightly browned and the pasta is hot throughout.
How to Freeze the Baked Ziti
The Baked Ziti can be frozen unbaked. When you’re ready to cook it, defrost it in the refrigerator for 24 hours, then proceed with the Make-Ahead instructions above.
Servings: 8 to 10 | Total Time: 1 Hour
- 1 lb ziti noodles
- 796g ( 7 sausage links) Spicy or sweet pork sausage, casing removed, broken into bite-size chunks
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 red pepper or poblano pepper, chopped
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 (28-oz) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1-1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon Indian red chili powder or crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, to taste
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cilantro, chopped plus more for garnishing
- 8 oz ( about 2 cups) whole milk mozzarella cheese, shredded
- Cooking spray or butter, for baking dish
How to Make Baked Ziti
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta in the salted boiling water until very al dente, about 2 minutes less than the package directions. Drain and add the pasta back to the pot. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 425 °F and set the oven rack in the middle position.
Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Crumble the sausage into the pan and cook, breaking apart with a wooden spoon, until browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the onion, pepper, and garlic and saute until starting to soften, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the mushroom and toss well and saute for about 5 minutes, then turn down to medium heat as the mushrooms begin to develop some color and the water from them evaporates. Add the crushed tomato, sugar, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Stir and bring to a simmer, uncovered for 15 minutes.
Add the heavy cream, 1/3 cup of the shredded Parmesan, and cilantro to the pan; stir until evenly combined. Taste and adjust salt as necessary.
Carefully pour the mixture of the nonstick skillet into the large pot with the pasta and gently stir to combine. Spoon half of the mixture into the prepared 13 x 18-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with half of the shredded mozzarella and half of the remaining shredded Parmesan.
Spoon the remaining pasta mixture on top and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and shredded Parmesan.
Transfer the Baked Ziti to the oven and bake, uncovered, until the completely heated through and cheese has melted and browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle with more cilantro and serve.
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