Baked Ziti is one of my favorite Italian dishes and is a tasty alternative to lasagna. Ziti is layered with sausage, Ricotta, mozzarella and tomato sauce, then baked until bubbly. This recipe makes an enormous amount of food, however, you can easily cut the recipe in half or freeze part of the recipe in a pan to enjoy later. Definitely restaurant quality and the aroma while it bakes is absolutely divine!!! I served it with a crunchy coleslaw on the side and slices of French bread.
■ Favorite Baked Ziti
Serving size: 10
● 16-ounce package Ziti pasta
● 1 pound Italian mild sausage, casings removed
● 2 24-ounce jars tomato and basil sauce or marinara sauce
● 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil, divided
● 12 ounces Ricotta cheese
● 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, divided
● Salt and pepper, to taste
● 1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded (I use half Mozzarella and half Provolone cheese)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for eight to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain. Place sausage in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside. In a large saucepan, heat pasta sauce with one teaspoon basil until bubbling. In a medium bowl, mix together ricotta, one teaspoon Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Spread bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish with sauce. Layer half of the ziti, half the sausage, half of the ricotta and half the mozzarella. Spoon half of the sauce over top. Repeat layers. Sprinkle top with remaining half teaspoons basil and Italian seasoning.
■ Creamy Coleslaw
● 8 cups cabbage, finely chopped
● 1/4 cup shredded carrots
● 1/3 cup sugar
● 1/8 teaspoon salt
● 1/8 teaspoon pepper
● 1/4 cup buttermilk
● 1 1/4 cups milk
● 1/2 cup mayonnaise
● 1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
● 2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
● 1 1/2 tablespoons mustard (optional but adds flavor)
Chop up the cabbage and carrots into fine pieces. In a large bowl, combine sugar, salt, pepper, milk, mayonnaise, buttermilk, vinegar, lemon juice and mustard and whisk until smooth. Add the cabbage and carrots. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Drain excess liquid and stir well before serving.
■ Tortilla Roll-ups
● 1 tomato, diced (optional)
● 8 ounces sour cream, softened
● 5 green onions chopped, tops included
● 7 ounces chopped green chilies, drained
● 2 tablespoons black olives, chopped (optional)
● 1 cup finely grated cheddar cheese or four cheese Mexican blended cheese
● 12 large flour tortillas
Mix the first six ingredients well in a mixing bowl. Spread mixture evenly on tortillas and gently roll them up. Wrap the rolled up tortillas in damp paper towels and place them in a gallon-size freezer bag. Chill for a minimum of two hours or as long as 24 hours. To serve, slice in 1-inch pieces. Great for dipping in salsa!
■ GARY’S TIP: If a recipe calls for one cup of buttermilk, instead add one tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice to one cup whole milk and let stand for five minutes.
■ FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Most parents are convinced that if their children have talent, it’s inherited. But if they have any meanness, it’s picked up from the neighbor kids.