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easy Baked Ziti with sausage and ricotta
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Baked Ziti

This easy Baked Ziti recipe with sausage and ricotta is a delicious cheesy Italian pasta casserole dinner that is packed with flavor.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 683kcal

Ingredients

Pasta:

  • 1 pound ziti pasta penne or rigatoni work just as well
  • 1 tablespoon salt for boiling only

Baked Ziti:

  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 1 large yellow onion minced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 28 ounces marinara sauce
  • 1 Tbsp fresh basil thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces mozzarella cheese grated, roughly 2 cups
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese grated

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Cook the pasta:

  • Bring a large pot of salted water (at least 2 quarts of water with a full tablespoon of salt) to a strong boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente (cooked but firm - it will continue cooking in the oven). When done, drain the pasta and set aside.

Make the meat sauce:

  • Meanwhile, while the pasta is cooking, brown the sausage in a large sauté pan on medium-high heat.
    cooked Italian sausage with grease in pan
  • Once the meat is starting to brown, add onions and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. The onions should absorb any excess oil in the pan. Add garlic and seasonings, stir to combine and cook for a few more minutes.
    sautéed onions and Italian sausage
  • Add sauce and bring to a simmer.
    tomato sauce and sausage in pan

Bake the Baked Ziti casserole:

  • Spread a thin layer of the meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13-inch casserole pan.
    marinara sauce and italian sausage in casserole dish
  • Combine a large spoonful of the sauce with the cooked ziti and add the pasta to the casserole dish.
    ziti pasta tossed with sauce and sausage
  • Spoon about half of the ricotta cheese onto the pasta and spread to create an even layer.
    ricotta cheese over Baked Ziti
  • Spread the remaining meat sauce onto the pasta.
    italian sausage and marinara sauce over ziti pasta
  • Top with remaining ricotta cheese and fresh basil.
    how to layer Baked Ziti casserole
  • Add the remaining pasta. Pour the remaining sauce over the pasta and cover casserole with the mozzarella and the Parmesan cheese.
    mozzarella and parmesan on pasta
  • Bake in oven at 350°F, covered with foil or an oven safe lid, for about 20 minutes. Remove the lid and continue cooking until the top is lightly browned and the cheese melted.

Notes

  • I highly recommend using the highest quality ingredients. Whole milk ricotta and mozzarella taste the best. Real Italian parmesan that you grate yourself will give you the best results. Be sure to use your favorite marinara sauce too.
  • Make ahead directions: You can make this recipe all the way up to the point where the Baked Ziti is put into the oven. Instead, you can cover and refrigerate or freeze until ready to eat. If you freeze, be sure to thaw to room temperature before baking.
  • Storage: Keep leftover Baked Ziti in an air tight container in the refrigerator. Best if eaten within a few days.
  • Reheating: You can reheat in the microwave on 50% power until heated through or you can reheat in the oven, covered, until the cheese is melted.

Nutrition

Calories: 683kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 105mg | Sodium: 2241mg | Potassium: 737mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1045IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 472mg | Iron: 3mg