Chrissy's Easy and Quick Cheesy Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage
No time for Lasagna or Manicotti? This is right up that alley with out all the work Ziti is a hollow pasta noodle that holds all of the flavor! This recipe is a quick and simple rendition of a meal you slaved over, but didn't. 1 Hour to an amazing meal! You can even choose red or white sauce or both and you don't even boil your pasta and I have a secret kitchen note is at the bottom of this recipe post.
A family favorite, and always a hit at the dinner table.
2 (16 oz) packages of regular ziti, penne, or rigatoni pasta (hollow)
1/2 lbs Italian Sausage (not links)
1/2 lbs ground beef
1 (15 oz) container of Ricotta Cheese
2 Tablespoons minced garlic
3 Tablespoons parsley
1/2 teaspoon allspice
3 Tablespoons Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 (26 oz) jars of your favorite sauce (red or white)
2 (8 oz) pkgs of shredded Italian blend Cheese
2 (8 oz) pkgs shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
(you can also add chopped onions and mushrooms to your taste)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F then spray a 9x13 baking pan with non stick cooking spay. The deeper the pan the better for this recipe.
In a large skillet brown your Italian sausage and ground beef together with your salt, pepper, garlic, and Italian seasoning. (mushrooms and onion if you are adding them)
Once your meat is cooked, add your jars of sauce, also once the jars are empty fill 2 of them up with water and add it to your sauce. Rinse any jar out thoroughly and fill with water and set aside. Simmer your sauce on low while you make your cheese filling.
Next in a large mixing bowl add your Ricotta cheese, egg, parsley, Parmesan cheese, 1 package of Italian cheese blend, and the jar of water you have set aside. with an electric mixer blend the mixture until it is smooth with out any Ricotta cheese lumps.
In the bottom of the baking dish ladle some sauce to cover the bottom of the pan.
Next add your pasta to your unused sauce in the skillet and fold in until the pasta is completely covered with sauce so it can get inside the hollow noodles.
Ladle some pasta mixture into your baking dish and spread it out evenly.
Next put a layer of your Ricotta cheese mixture over top, and then another layer of your saucy noodles, and repeat layers until your pan is full.
Garnish the top with cheese, but leave a little to add once you pull it out of the oven.
Place your baking dish on a sheet of aluminum foil or a cookie sheet incase the sauce bubbles over.
Bake for 45-55 minutes. (until the noodles are tender and cooked)
Add more cheese when you pull it out of the oven and let it rest 10 minutes.
Serve and enjoy!
**Chrissy's Recipe Notes**
I have found if I pre-boil my noodles in water al dente they are already saturated with water when I add them to my sauce. So I think they do not absorb the flavors from the seasoning, sausage, and sauce the way I would like them to.
I found that baking the noodles raw in my sauce allows them to absorb the sauce and true deep flavors since they are not saturated with water. This is why I add the water to my sauce and Ricotta cheese so there is plenty of moisture to fully cook the pasta in the sauce and cheese while baking in the oven with out losing any flavor. It also helps the final product stay together and not slip and slide or fall apart when you serve it. It stays layered and beautiful.
I also use this same technique for Lasagna and Manicotti.