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Baked Ziti

August 12, 2009

When I was growing up, “Italian food” was simply a jar of marinara sauce and noodles.  No one ever thought about much else except for the Christmas dinner lasagna.  My husband is Italian and if it weren’t for him, I’d probably still be eating the same boring pasta.  This said, I’ve been looking for more ways to impress the Italian in him and try something new.  I stumbled across this recipe for Baked Ziti on Annie’s Eats.  The recipe sounded easy enough and looked delicious in pictures.

I headed to the kitchen armed with all the delicious ingredients with hopes of creating something we would all love.  The recipe was easy to follow, but a little time consuming for an after work meal. My husband was happy to help especially when the aroma from the kitchen made its way to him.  When it was all said and done, the finished product looked pretty good and smelled great! After first bite, I knew my husband was hooked.  The dish turned out great and I feel fairly confident that this will be come a family favorite for years to come.

Baked Ziti
Ingredients:
1 lb. whole milk or 1% cottage cheese
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 oz. grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 cups), divided
Table salt
1 lb. ziti
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
20 oz. turkey Italian sausage
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
5 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 (28 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil leaves, divided
1 tsp. sugar
Ground black pepper
3/4 tsp. cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream (or whole milk)
8 oz. low-moisture mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

Directions:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350° F.  Whisk cottage cheese, eggs, and 1 cup Parmesan together in a medium bowl; set aside.  Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta; cook until pasta begins to soften but is not yet cooked through, 5-7 minutes.  Drain the pasta and leave in colander.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Crumble in the turkey sausage and cook until nearly browned.  Add in the onion and garlic and continue to cook until the onion is softened and the sausage is completely browned.  Stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and oregano; simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.  Off the heat, stir in 1/2 cup basil and the sugar, and season with salt and pepper.  

In a small bowl stir together the cornstarch and heavy cream.  Transfer the mixture to the now-empty stockpot over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, 3-4 minutes.  Remove the pot from the heat and add the cottage cheese mixture, 1 1/2 cups of the tomato sauce and 3/4 cup mozzarella.  Stir to combine.  Add the pasta and toss to coat thoroughly with the sauce.

Transfer the pasta to a 9×13″ baking dish and spread the remaining tomato sauce evenly over the top.  Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan over the top.  Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the foil from the pan and continue to cook until the cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes longer.  Cool for 20 minutes.  Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons basil and serve.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Melissa Sherman permalink
    September 1, 2009 4:06 pm

    YUMMY!!!! I will for sure try this recipe.

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