Sunday, January 29, 2017

Baked Ziti with Veggie Italian Sausage Crumbles

Awww, baked ziti, a phrase that invokes comfort, cheesy, Italian homemade goodness.

No? You must not be from the Northeast!

Baked ziti, AKA pasta al forno is truly second best only to pizza. If you are an omnivore, adding in some Italian sausage is always a good thing. Fortunately my freezer had some of my homemade veggie Italian sausage (gluten free!), so it was added to the mix. Delizioso!

This can be a quick pantry meal if you already have a few things on hand, such as prepared tomato sauce and veggie sausage crumbles. Preparation is simple: heat tomato sauce, cook pasta, sautee crumbles (all of which can basically happen simultaneously), combine and grate cheese over the top and bake.

If you have to use gluten free pasta as I do, then this is a great dish for hiding the less than exciting texture of such pastas. It also can handle a variety of cheeses, great for using up odd bits and pieces out of your cheese drawer. (What? You don't have a cheese drawer? So sorry to hear that! Get started on that right away!)

Baked Ziti with Veggie Italian Sausage Crumbles
(serves 3-4)

1/2 package ziti (penne or rigatoni will do if your market doesn't have "ziti" per see)

2 cups prepared tomato sauce (make your own)
1-2 cups veggie Italian sausage crumbles
olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup mozzarella, grated
1/4 cup hard cheese (asiago, parmesan, pecorino romano), grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat tomato sauce over low, slightly covered, until it is bubbling on low.

In a 8 or 9 inch oven proof cast iron pan, saute garlic in enough oil until it softens; add sausage crumbles and cook another 2-3 minutes to warm. Add hot sauce to crumbles and turn heat down to medium.

Cook pasta as directed but just a minute or two shy of al dente; it will cook more when baking. Drain and add to crumbles and tomato mixture. Stir pasta well to coat with tomato mixture. Turn off stove top heat and add mozzarella to mixture, stirring it in just a little. Add hard cheese on top to cover and bake for 20-25 minutes until top is browned and tomato juices are bubbling up on the sides. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes and serve.


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