Baked ziti casserole is a delicious dish to prepare for dinner during the colder months. This dish has tons of flavor from ingredients such as Italian sausage, garlic, Italian seasoning and marinara sauce. Three types of cheeses are used in this recipe—mozzarella, parmesan and ricotta. If you cannot find ziti pasta or would prefer to substitute, penne will work as well. For the marinara sauce, you can either use your favorite brand from the store or make your own. I like to serve this baked ziti with garlic bread. Enjoy.
- 1lb ziti pasta
- olive oil
- 1lb bulk Italian sausage
- 1 large onion (chopped)
- 3 garlic cloves (chopped)
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil (minced)
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 (32 ounces) jar marinara sauce
- 8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 heaping cup ricotta cheese
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add ziti and cook according to package directions until al dente (you want the noodles to be edible but still firm). Drain and toss the noodles with a little bit of olive oil to prevent them from sticking together.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook while breaking up into chunks with a spatula or spoon until the sausage is browned. Add onions and stir well to combine. Sauté until the onions are translucent and beginning to brown (about 4-5 minutes). Add garlic, basil, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute and then add the marinara sauce and stir well. Bring to a simmer.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread a thin layer of the sauce onto the bottom of a greased 9×13 inch baking dish. Dot the surface of the sauce with ricotta cheese. Add a ladle of the sauce into the pasta and stir well. Add the pasta into the casserole dish on top of the ricotta.
- Pour the remaining sauce over the pasta and dot with the remaining ricotta cheese. Sprinkle the top with mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
- Place into the oven and bake until the top is lightly browned and the cheese has melted (about 20 minutes).