- 1/3 cup slightly packed chopped fresh basil, plus more for topping
- 3/4 cup (1.7 oz) finely shredded parmesan, divided
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 lb Mild or Hot Italian Sausage, such as Johnsonville
- 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes
- 1 (15 oz) container ricotta cheese
- 1 large egg
- 1 3/4 cup chopped yellow onions (1 medium onion)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 Tbsp tomato paste
- 3 1/2 cups (14 oz) shredded mozzarella, divided
- 4 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley, divided
- 16 oz dry ziti pasta
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat oven and boil water: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (for pasta).
2. For the sauce: Heat olive oil in a large saute pan (deep skillet), add onions and saute 2 minutes then add sausage and cook, stirring and breaking up sausage occasionally, until cooked through, adding in garlic during last 1 minute, drain excess fat. Stir in crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, 2 Tbsp parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring mixture to a light boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and allow to simmer 10 minutes then remove from heat.
3. Too cook pasta: Cook pasta according to package directions about a minute shy of al dente. Drain pasta while reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Return pasta to empty pot, immediately add reserved pasta water and 1 cup of the red sauce then toss pasta to coat.
4. For the cheeses: In a mixing bowl using a fork stir together ricotta, egg, 2 Tbsp parsley and season with salt and pepper. Mix in 1 1/2 cups of the mozzarella and 1/2 cup of the parmesan.To assemble the ziti: Spray a 13 by 9-inch baking dish with non-stick spray. Spread 1 1/2 cups of the red sauce evenly into bottom of dish, then spread 1/2 of the pasta over sauce then dollop spoonfuls of ricotta mixture all over pasta and flatten slightly.Top with remaining pasta. Spoon remaining sauce evenly over pasta layer. Sprinkle top evenly with remaining 2 cups of the mozzarella and 1/4 cup parmesan.
5. To cook the baked ziti: Tent baking dish with foil (don’t let it touch the cheese or it will stick) and bake 15 minutes then uncover and bake 10 – 15 minutes longer until cheese is melted throughout. Serve warm.
Recipe by: Cooking Classy