Baked Ziti and Italian Sausage is a traditional Italian – American pasta dish that our family has made for years, it contains perfectly cooked pasta, a delicious homemade Red Sauce, quality bold Italian Hot Sausage, Italian herbs, and spices, with a Ricotta center, fresh mozzarella, with a basil topping.
Most Baked Ziti recipes you will find on the worldwide net call for the ricotta cheese to be mixed with the pasta, however, I love the rich creamy exceptional center in my version of Baked Ziti and Italian Sausage with Fresh Mozzarella Cheese – Pasta al Forno
Truly one of the things I love about most Italian-American dishes is the fact there really are very few rules to making your Pasta dishes, recipes may vary and can contain a vast variety of ingredients that still continue the Italian traditions of the old world. The traditional recipes are not meant to be complicated, it’s not the Italian way of life to complicate matters in such a way.
What did I mean by the statement of no rules? Take, for example, Pasta al Forno is basically more of a method of Italian cooking. Ingredients can vary widely Pasta al Forno is usually the result of an inspired cook or need to use up some leftovers you may have had lingered. Below you will find my recipe for Baked Ziti and Italian Sausage with Fresh Mozzarella Cheese – (Pasta al Forno) with Homemade Sauce recipe and simple to follow instructions.
Baked Ziti and Italian Sausage with Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 pound ziti
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound Italian hot sausage links
- 1 pound fresh ricotta
- 5 fresh basil leaves, torn
- 5 cups homemade red sauce, see recipe below
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
- 5 fresh basil leaves, garnish
Red Sauce recipe
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion sliced paper-thin and separated into crescents
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced paper-thin
- 1/2 cup diced green bell peppers
- 1/4 cup minced red bell peppers
- 2 large cans (1 pound, 12 oz.) Italian-style crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 and 1/2 tablespoons dried basil
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- a few hot pepper flakes, to taste
- Place large dutch oven on low-medium heat till heated, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then place Italian sausage links into dutch oven to brown continuously turning for an even coloration of the sausage for about 8-10 minutes then add onion, garlic, diced green peppers, minced red peppers, stir ingredients frequently and cook until onion is a slightly golden color, but not brown .
- Once done remove from heat and place Italian sausage links on a plate to cool. Once the Italian sausage has cooled slice sausage, place the sausage to the side.
- Slowly pour Italian crushed style tomatoes into the dutch oven, stirring constantly, be sure the dutch oven doesn’t become too hot or it will spatter. Add sliced Italian sausage, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, fresh parsley, and hot pepper flakes.
- Simmer sauce on low heat for 20-30 minutes stirring the sauce a few times.
- In the meantime, fill a large pasta pan with cold tap water, add oil and kosher salt to the water.Bring the water to a full boil and add pasta, cook al dente (directions on package) drain pasta.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Spread 1 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 or large glass baking dish. Layer half of the ziti on top of the sauce. Pour 2 cups of the sauce over the pasta, and spread in an even layer. Spread ricotta cheese on top of pasta along with 5 torn basil leaves.Top with the rest of the pasta, and spread 2 cups sauce over a layer of pasta. Arrange fresh mozzarella slices on top.
- Place the dish in the oven and bake, uncovered, until bubbly, about 25 minutes.
- Garnish with remaining basil and let rest 5 minutes before cutting.
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