Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage. Because, Baby, It’s Cold Outside.

Italian, Main Courses, Pasta / Monday, December 15th, 2008


There’s an ice storm coming. Remember that episode of “Little House on the Prairie” where Pa ties a rope from the house to the barn so he can tend the livestock during a blinding blizzard?

This isn’t going to be anything like that.

A Middle Tennessee ice storm usually means some broken tree limbs, maybe a short a power outage and an insane rush to the grocery for “essentials.” People will wait in the grocery line for 15 minutes to buy a frozen pot pie, eight rolls of toilet paper, a bag of Oreos and some Jiffy Pop.

My favorite meal for a night like this is Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage. Gooey cheese. Spicy browned sausage. Really, I could stop right there, but I love to experiment with different mix-ins (i.e. peppers, onions, mushrooms), cheeses, herbs and pasta sauces, especially ones that include red wine.

Oh, how I crave this stuff. There should be a 12-step program.

P.S. I’m going to kick myself for saying this, but the sausage isn’t essential. If you’re a vegetarian or just trying to eat healthier, feel free to leave it out. There, I said it. Now, I’ve got to go scrub off the shame.

Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage

Adapted from “Cook’s Country”¬†(April/May 2005)

Serves 6

  • 1 pound ziti, dried
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 jar spaghetti sauce (your favorite)
  • 1 pound Italian sausage (sweet, mild, or hot), sliced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) grated mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray, and set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add Kosher salt, and boil pasta for 1 minute less than package directions. Drain, and transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Pour your spaghetti sauce over the pasta, and toss. Set aside.
  4. In a large skillet, brown the Italian sausage over medium heat. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan, and add the garlic and red pepper  flakes. Cook for about 30 seconds.
  5. Add the sausage to the pasta mixture.
  6. Pour half of the pasta mixture into your prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with half of each cheese. Pour remaining pasta into the dish, and top with remaining cheese.
  7. Bake until cheese is golden brown and bubbly, about 20 minutes.


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26 thoughts on “Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage. Because, Baby, It’s Cold Outside.

  1. Seriously, nothing is better than baked pasta. Dangit, I *thought* I knew what I was having for dinner… And wait a sec – you can find jiffy pop?!? I searched a half dozen stores before going camping last summer and never found it! Lucky!

  2. Carmela Soprano ain’t got nothing on you! Yum…that looks like the perfect snowed in food choice. Hope the storm isn’t too destructive. Ice can be hard on overhead wires.

  3. ICE STORM = a week of no electricity, your daddy renting a motel room so you can take a warm shower, cooking on the outside gas grill. Ok, so it happened 16 years ago… IT STILL HAPPENED! I’ve never eaten baked pasta, but it sure looks good.

  4. We just had our first ice storm of the season over the weekend. Luckily, we fared better than some local communities. We would have been better if we had a little of this!

  5. Gosh that sure looks and sounds yummy! I was reading the list of ingredients thinking “check” after each one I had. Too late to make it now, but I’m putting it on the list!

    Love your “about me” blurb, btw. Very funny!

  6. ohhh yum! this is one of my favorite dishes and it’s sooo easy to make! my menu for the week might have to change to include this!!

  7. The way this explodes off the screen is incredible – Looks so Yummy. This is a great comfort food dish!!

  8. This looks fabulous! I might make this tonight — I’ll have mine with sausage, thankyouverymuch. Here in ‘Bama, people wait in line for 45 minutes to buy milk if there is even a chance of a snowflake somewhere in this time zone. I shudder to think what will happen if it ever actually snows!

  9. I’m a Chicago native who lived in Nashville for a few years, and the closest I have every come to death was in a Kroger parking lot when they predicted snow. You have the right idea to forgo the Jiffypop in favor of a night at home with this lovely dish. Mangia!

  10. Mmmmm…. Fine Cooking had a recipe (similar) a few winters ago that I love. Instead of spaghetti sauce, try using the canned plum tomatoes, instead of the red pepper flakes, try chopped up cherry peppers…. I think I’m going to use the sauce next time (instead of tomatoes). Every time I make this, I hear “oh, you made my favorite”. Great comforting wintery food!

  11. My husband is always hassling me to cook baked pasta. I’ll give this one a go because I’m sure he’ll love it.

  12. I made this tonight for dinner, me and my roomates absolutely LOVED it and are really looking forward to the leftovers!

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