Baked Ziti

Baked Ziti

 

In sticking with my theme of making meals that can also be frozen I opted to cook up a batch of baked ziti with turkey Italian sausage.  Lasagna is known to freeze well but I figured why go through all the effort of putting together a lasagna when baked ziti is practically the same thing.  This meal was super super simple to throw together and extremely delicious to both Josh and I.  I love gluten free pasta but feared a rice pasta would get soggy when defrosted so I used a whole wheat rigatoni instead.  And since I’m still in love with Cucina Antica’s La Vodka Sauce I decided not to make a sauce from scratch.  Plus the cream in the sauce takes just enough of the acidity out to prevent any heartburn from coming on.  I have found I absolutely love cooking with Italian sausage.  Since I can remember it has always been a favorite of mine.  The seasonings add much flavor to any dish doing most of the seasoning work for you.  This is something Josh has definitely opened up to.  He’s more of a bolognese sauce kind of guy but I stick with the sausage.

 

Browning sausage with onion, garlic, dried oregano, and fresh parsley

Sauce added

Pasta placed in casserole dish topped with ricotta cheese

Topped with Italian sausage/sauce and mozzarella cheese

Baked!

Baked Ziti

 

Baked Ziti (enough for two 9×9 casserole dishes)

  • 24 oz whole wheat rigatoni
  • onion, chopped
  • garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • chopped fresh parsley (as much as you’d like)
  • 2 links turkey Italian sausage, sliced into 1/4″ rounds (good luck with this)
  • 25 oz jar Cucina Antica la vodka sauce
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • pecorino romano
  • mozzarella cheese
  • olive oil
  1. Cook pasta until just al dente.  If the box says cook for 11 minutes cook for 8-9.  They should still be chewy.
  2. Heat up some olive oil over medium heat.  Once warm add the onion and garlic.  Cook for a few minutes until fragrant.  Add the Italian sausage and brown.  I ended up cutting mine in half since they were a little thicker than I wanted.  Once they are about cooked through add the oregano and fresh parsley.  Mix well and add the jar of sauce.  Turn off heat.
  3. In your casserole dish place a small amount of the sauce just to coat the bottom.  Place the noodles in and top with the ricotta cheese.  Grate a bit of fresh pecorino romano on top.  Layer in the Italian sausage/sauce.  I added a splash or two of water to the sauce jar and poured this on top of the sauce for a little extra moisture.  Lastly top with mozzarella cheese.  The kind I bought was a really soft brick so I sliced thin layers rather than grate.
  4. Bake covered in a 350° oven for 20 minutes.  Uncover and bake another 15 minutes until cheese is bubbly and brown.

** To freeze: Place assembled dish without baking in fridge to chill.  Once cold wrap well in foil and plastic wrap.  Place in freezer.  Defrost in fridge for 24 hours before baking.

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