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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Sausage Baked Ziti

There's nothing quite like a plate of pasta comfort food. Baked ziti is definitely the ultimate crowd pleaser, who doesn't like it?! Since my husband has finally turned the corner and is now capable of eating pasta, this was a huge turning point. A few years ago I would have never been able to make a pasta-only entree for dinner. There is sausage in this, since there does have to be some meat involved in order for him to find it acceptable dinner food, but that's something I can work with! I love how easy it is to throw ziti together, and with a little extra sauce it reheats easily for lunches or for another night of dinner.

One of my biggest gripes when it comes to baked ziti is that I find most of them are not made with enough sauce. I hate when they are like that, so I made sure to have enough sauce in mine so that it would not be dry. I did this by using a lasagna-like layering approach when I put everything into the casserole dish. Instead of dumping in the noodles, then the sauce, then the cheese etc...I first spread a later of sauce in the empty baking dish and alternated between noodles, cheese, sausage, and sauce to ensure that everything would be covered!

-1 box penne pasta
-1 lb ground sausage
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 tablespoon EVOO
-1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
-1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
-1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
-1 teaspoon garlic powder
-1 teaspoon salt
-1/2 teaspoon thyme
-2 jars pasta sauce (I used Prego)

1. Preheat oven to 375. Cook pasta. In a frying pan, heat the EVOO with the minced garlic. Add the ground sausage and cook completely, reserve for later.

2. In a mixing bow, combine ricotta with garlic powder, thyme, and salt.

3. With your casserole dish, pour a layer of pasta sauce. Sprinkle with garlic powder. Top with a layer of noodles, and then spoonfuls of sausage followed by another layer of pasta sauce. Drop spoonfuls of ricotta mixture, then sprinkle mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Repeat this until all ingredients are used, making sure the top layer are the cheeses. Bake 15-20 minutes, then broil 5-6 minutes to get cheeses bubbly.

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