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Tonight’s Family Dinner: Baked Ziti

Baked ZitiDo you ever wake up knowing what you want for dinner? Today, I know I want a big Italian style meal. Yes, it was about 6:30 am when I made that decision. My feeling on this early morning decision is that anticipation will make for a great Sunday!

So what exactly am I anticipating? My Baked Ziti is very lasagna like but without the work. Easy homemade marinara, crumbled sweet Italian sausage (the key to a tasty Baked Ziti in my humble opinion), and lots of cheese! Add a fresh green salad, some extra garlicky garlic bread and I am a very, very happy girl. Treat yourself to an Italian feast tonight!

Baked Ziti Recipe

Baked Ziti with Homemade Marinara Sauce

Serves 8

First, make the Marinara Sauce:

  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans stewed tomatoes
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup finely diced onion
  • 1/2 cup white wine

1. Heat large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil, then onions. Cook onions until translucent.

2. While onions are cooking, add tomatoes, tomato paste, parsley, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper to food processor or blender. Pulse until smooth.

3. Add wine and tomato sauce to onions. Simmer for 30 minutes over medium low, stirring occasionally.

Second, make the Baked Ziti:

  • 1 lb ziti pasta
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 lb ground sweet sausage (not in casings)
  • Marinara sauce (see above)
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1 T garlic powder
  • 1 T flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6-8 slices provolone cheese (not smoked)
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 baking disk to prevent sticking.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add ziti and cook to al dente, about 7-8 minutes. Do not overcook the pasta here or your Baked Ziti will be mushy. Drain.

3. In a large, deep skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add onions and sweet sausage. When sausage is browned, add marinara. Simmer for 10 minutes.

4. While meat sauce is simmering, add ricotta, salt, garlic powder and parsley to a medium bowl. Stir until combined. Set aside.

5. Layer the ingredients in the baking dish as follows: 1/4 cup meat sauce, 1/2 of ziti, 1/2 of ricotta mixture, 1/2 of provolone cheese, 1/2 of mozzarella cheese, 1/2 of remaining meat sauce,  1/2 of parmesan cheese, then repeat with remaining 1/2 of ingredients. Cover with tin foil.

6. Bake for 15 minutes with foil. Remove foil and bake for remaining 15 minutes until cheeses are melted and gooey. Allow ziti to sit for 10 minutes before serving. This will allow the dish to set.

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