Meat, pasta, and cheese. What’s there not to like? This recipe is from Patrick and Gina Neeley- my favorite (and only) couple on the Food Network. It’s not your typical marinara sauce ziti, but instead it’s made with diced tomatoes and pesto. I made my own pesto (I’ll post that another day), but you can easily used the jarred kind. The recipe doesn’t specify tomato or basil pesto, but I’ve always assumed they meant basil. I’m sure you can use either depending on your preferences.
One of the best things about for recipe is it’s perfect for leftovers. Many pasta dishes taste better the day after (like lasagna) because the flavors are able to really blend together over night.
Baked Ziti (serves approx. 6)
1/2 pound cooked ziti
1/2 pound spicy sausage
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic
1 14.5-15 oz can of Italian style diced tomatoes, undrained
6 tablespoons pesto
7.5 oz ricotta (half of the standard container)
4.5 oz frozen spinach (half the standard package), thawed and drained
1 cup mozzarella, plus more for topping
3/4 cup Parmesan, plus more for topping
In a large saucepan, brown sausage on medium-high heat. When sausage is approximately half way cooked, add onions and garlic and cooked until no pink remains. Add tomatoes and pesto and stir well. Let mixture simmer for 10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375F
Turn heat down to low and add spinach, ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan. Mix until well blended. Turn off heat.
In a large bowl combine sausage mixture with cooked ziti. Make sure it’s well blended and there are no large sections of noodles or sausage mixture.
Pour noodles and sausage mixture into an 8×8 pan. Top with additional cheese and bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top.
Adapted from The Neeleys