When I think of Ziti al Forno or Baked Ziti, I think of gatherings with family and friends, summer dinners in the backyard, picnics at the beach and all kinds of happy Italian scenarios where good food is a big part of the fun.
This baked ziti recipe with sausage is easy and it can be prepared in advance, even the day before, and warmed up just before serving.
Ingredients and Instructions (serves 6):
- 1 pound of ziti pasta
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- 1 large egg, slightly beaten
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 15-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon of finely chopped Italian parsley
- 1/4 pound Italian sausage, mild and without casing
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup of diced mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup of grated Pecorino (Romano) cheese
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs, plus 1/3 for topping
- 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese for topping
- salt and pepper
- Cook pasta to just before al dente.
- In a large skillet, heat half of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, the sausage and crumble the meat with a fork; cook for about 5 minutes until browned evenly.
- Add the wine to the skillet, scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon to deglaze all the flavorful bits, then reduce the heat to low and let simmer until the wine is reduce to a half.
- Add to the skillet crushed tomatoes and parsley; stir, bring to a light boil, cover with a lid and cook slowly for about 30 minutes stirring frequently.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta in abundant boiling salted water, but reduce the suggested cooking time on the package by 3-4 minutes. This will ensure that the pasta is not overcook once through the baking process.
- In a large bowl mix egg, bread crumbs, mozzarella, salt and pepper.
- Add the pasta to the bowl and gently toss with the egg and bread crumb mixture.
- Add the tomato sauce and gently mix together. It should be well combined, the pasta completely coated with the sauce.
- Coat a medium casserole or baking dish with the remaining olive oil, then pour the pasta into it and level the top with a spoon.
- Combine the 1/3 cup of bread crumbs and the Parmigiano cheese together, then sprinkle over the top of the pasta.
- Place in a 500 F oven for 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool down a few minutes before serving.
Enjoy and buon appetito!
Cinzia Aversa, 2014