Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Baked Ziti

I ran across this recipe a while back and decided to try it out tonight. We really enjoyed this dish and it wasn't hard at all to make. The original recipe calls for turkey italian sausage but, since I'm not usually a big fan of sausage unless it's in breakfast food, I decided to go meatless. The taste was great, it was filling, and we didn't miss the meat at all (and it also made for a cheaper meal, which is always a plus!). I made this but, since we couldn't possibly eat the entire dish and I'm in the process of stocking my freezer, I froze half of it, and we still had enough left over from dinner to have for leftovers later this week. If you are looking for a recipe for baked ziti, this is a great one to try. 

Baked Ziti
Recipe here from Annie's Eats
My changes/comments are noted below in italics

I N G R E D I E N T S :
1 lb. whole milk or 1% cottage cheese (I used cottage cheese but ricotta would be great as well.)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 oz. grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 cups), divided
Table salt
1 lb. ziti
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
20 oz. turkey Italian sausage
(I did not use any meat and it was great. Just depends on if you want meat or not.)
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
5 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 (28 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil leaves, divided (I only had dried basil, so I used 1/3 of the amount it calls for)
1 tsp. sugar
Ground black pepper
3/4 tsp. cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream (or whole milk)
(I used whole milk)
8 oz. low-moisture mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
D I R E C T I O N S :
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350° F.  Whisk cottage cheese, eggs, and 1 cup Parmesan together in a medium bowl; set aside.  Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta; cook until pasta begins to soften but is not yet cooked through, 5-7 minutes.  Drain the pasta and leave in colander.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Crumble in the turkey sausage and cook until nearly browned.  Add in the onion and garlic and continue to cook until the onion is softened and the sausage is completely browned.  Stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and oregano; simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.  Off the heat, stir in 1/2 cup basil and the sugar, and season with salt and pepper.  
In a small bowl stir together the cornstarch and heavy cream.  Transfer the mixture to the now-empty stockpot over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, 3-4 minutes.  Remove the pot from the heat and add the cottage cheese mixture, 1 1/2 cups of the tomato sauce and 3/4 cup mozzarella.  Stir to combine.  Add the pasta and toss to coat thoroughly with the sauce.
Transfer the pasta to a 9×13″ baking dish and spread the remaining tomato sauce evenly over the top.  Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan over the top.  Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove the foil from the pan and continue to cook until the cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes longer.  Cool for 20 minutes.  Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons basil and serve. 

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