Baked Ziti with Spicy Italian Sausage

by Nina | August 19, 2012 8:37 pm

When cooking for someone have you ever heard them say, “What’s in that?” “I’ve never tasted that!”. LOL  Well it seems like whenever I make something out of the ordinary my family is hesitant to taste something new which drives me crazy! I am such a huge foodie and I love to try new and exotic dishes so sometimes I forget that not everyone likes to experiment like I do.

So I let my sister Ashley pick something that I would cook for the whole family that they’ve had before and would no doubt love.  This is what she came up with and even though I hate to admit it she was right.  My family loved loved loved this dish and even ate all the leftovers.  I guess sometimes you’ve got to go back to the basics and keep it simple.

This would be a great dish to make for a large gathering or party.  You can make it in advance and warm it in the oven right before serving.  I promise this dish is delicious and you and your guests will love it.



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. spicy 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

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



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 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.


Adapted from: Annie’s Eats


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