Although a short, tubular pasta, in Italian Ziti also means maiden or a young bride. Ziti literally means “macaroni of the bride”, traditionally served at Southern Italian wedding banquets. Not having a wedding? That’s okay. This Classic Ziti Bake is great for gathering of any kind, and actually travels well provided you have a means of warming it up.
A while back, Kiddo and I prepared several dishes to be cooked and served at Dad’s farm for a family Sunday Supper. I selected several yummy dishes that were easy to assemble at home, transport to the farm and finish in Dad’s oven. I wanted to cook dinner for Dad and his wife, Sue, without making a huge mess of their kitchen. I wanted to make something that traveled easily and would make our evening as stress-free as possible What could be easier? I called Dad while we were still in route, he preheated the oven so that when we arrived, all I needed to do was warm the casserole. Served with warm bread and a nice salad, it was perfect.
We had such a lovely evening, I only wish we could make it a regular Sunday thing. When Hubby and I were first married, Sunday dinners at the farm was a rule. That was back in the old days, before his children scattered. Now getting together for Sunday Supper is something we do more in spirit than in the flesh.
Classic Ziti Bake with Italian Sausage
1 lb Ziti, cooked according to package
1 lb Italian Sausage, casings removed (or bulk sausage)
½ Cup Chopped Yellow or White Onion
½ Cup Chopped Red Onion
4-6 Cloves Garlic, pressed
1 Jar Spaghetti Sauce
1 Can Diced Tomatoes with liquid
2 15-oz Containers Ricotta Cheese
2 Eggs, lightly beaten
1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
1 Tablespoon Basil
1 Tablespoon Oregano
Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper to taste
2 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
½ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
½ Cup Flat Leaf (Italian) Parsley for garnish
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a full boil.
Cook pasta al dente, about 10-15 minutes. Drain and keep warm.
Preheat oven to 350-degrees
Chop onions, set aside. Peel garlic, set aside.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and onions. Press garlic directly into pan.
Cook until sausage is browned, breaking into small pieces. Remove from heat; drain if necessary and stir in spaghetti sauce and tomatoes; set aside.
Combine ricotta cheese, eggs, Italian seasoning and black pepper; mix well.
Place cooked Ziti in a rectangular casserole dish. Add 4 cups of the sauce to mixture, mix well. Spoon ricotta mixture evenly over Ziti; spread evenly. Top with remaining sauce.
Place Zita in oven and bake 45 minutes.
Remove Ziti from oven, top with Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Bake 15-20 minutes longer or until bubbly and cheeses are melted.
Remove from oven, sprinkle with parsley and let rest 5 minutes before serving.
Not sure what salad to serve? Ode to the Salad has a few to for your consideration.