Friday, February 6, 2009

Baked Pasta

I made a delious baked pasta recipe a few weeks ago to bring to a friend's house. It was a great dish for that.. I was able to grab it from the oven and put it directly in my car. It rested in the car and by the time I arrived, it was ready to serve. The original recipe is actually a Baked Ziti with Sausage recipe from but I made a couple of modifications, one of which was pureeing the onions which I think really made a difference. You could leave out the sausage for a vegetarian dish and probably use a ziti, penne or even maybe a medium-sized shell pasta. I used a rigatoni because the supermarket here didn't have ziti, but it came out great. Try to pick a pasta with lines as opposed to a smooth pasta because the lines will hold the cheese, sauce, and/or meat.

Baked Pasta

  • 1 (16 ounce) package dry ziti pasta or other shape

  • 1 pound mild Italian sausage, ground or links (optional)

  • 1 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese

  • 1 egg

  • 1 cup chopped onion

  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1 teaspoon dried basil

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 2 (26 ounce) jars spaghetti sauce, divided

  • 1 (8 ounce) package shredded mozzarella cheese

  1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.

  2. Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, stir in the ziti, and return to a boil. Cook the pasta uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta has cooked through, but is still firm to the bite. Drain well in a colander set in the sink.

  3. While pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. If you are using a link sausage, cut the links into 1/2 inch pieces before cooking. Add the sausage, and cook and stir until brown, about 10 minutes. Drain sausage and set aside.

  4. Put the chopped onion, garlic, and about a 1/4 cup of the ricotta in a food processor and puree. Add the rest of the ricotta, egg, and spices, and puree until smooth. Add to a large bowl.

  5. If using ground sausage, stir the cooked, ground sausage into the ricotta mixture. If using linked sausage, don't mix in the sausage. If using no sausage, ignore this part!

  6. Stir the drained pasta into the ricotta mixture and add 1/2 of one jar of the pasta sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  7. Now it's time to layer the dish. Cover the bottom of your baking dish with 1/2 jar of sauce, then layer in 1/2 of the pasta/ricotta mixture, then the sausage link slices if you have them, another 1/2 jar of sauce, then 1/2 of the shredded cheese. Then layer the remaining 1/2 of pasta, 1/2 jar of sauce, then 1/2 of the cheese.

  8. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil.

  9. Bake in the preheated oven until heated through, about 20 minutes. Uncover; return to the oven and bake until cheese is melted, 5 to 10 more minutes.