by Vicki Brunsvold, Tastemaker in Residence
Baked Ziti with Sausage
8 slices applewood smoked bacon, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
1 lb mild Italian sausage
1 lb spicy Italian sausage
1 24-28 oz jar marinara sauce
1 28 oz can whole tomatoes with juice
1 15 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 lb ziti (or similar tubular pasta)
6 cups grated mozzarella
1 15 oz tub ricotta
1/2 cup grated parmesan
2 Tbsp chopped Italian parsley, additional for garnish
- Sauté bacon until crisp. Remove bacon and sauté onion 3-4 minutes in bacon drippings, adding olive oil if needed. Add garlic and stir for one minute.
- Brown sausage, draining off most of fat. Add marinara sauce, tomatoes, and seasonings. Stir and simmer for 30 minutes. Check for seasoning, adding bacon and any salt and pepper as needed. Remove 4 cups of cooked sauce to a bowl to cool down.
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- Cook ziti according to package to not quite al dente.
- In large bowl put 2 cups mozzarella, ricotta, Parmesan, parsley, eggs and 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Barely mix - stirring only a couple times.
- Pour drained ziti into bowl with cheese mixture and toss to slightly combine.
- Put half of pasta mixture into large casserole or lasagna dish. Spoon half of remaining sauce over top, sprinkle 2 cups mozzarella over top.
- Repeat with another layer of ziti and the rest of the sauce and mozzarella.
- Bake until bubbling, about 30 minutes. Let stand 5-10 minutes.
- Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.