Fleur de Lis

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Cheesy Baked Ziti

This is a great "fix ahead" meal to get ready the night before what you know will be a busy day. Come home, pop it in the oven (you'll need to increase your cooking time!) and while you unwind for a bit, let this comfort food bake in the oven. Add a salad and some bread and you're set. 

1 - 16 oz. package dry ziti pasta
1 pound mild Italian sausage
1 - 15 oz. container ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 large yellow onion, minced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 (26 oz.) jars spaghetti sauce, divided
1 - 8 oz. package shredded Italian cheese blend
1 teaspoon dried basil

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Fill a large pot with lightly 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, about 8 minutes. Drain well.

While pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the sausage and cook and stir until browned, about 10 minutes.  Drain sausage and set aside.

Stir together the ricotta, egg, onion, garlic, and oregano in a large bowl until well combined.  Stir in the drained pasta and sausage, salt, pepper, and 1/2 jar of the spaghetti sauce; mix well.

In the prepared baking dish, cover the bottom with 1/3 jar of spaghetti sauce. Layer 1/2 of the pasta mixture, 1/3 jar of spaghetti sauce, and 1/2 of the shredded cheese. Then layer the remaining 1/2 of the pasta, 1/3 of the sauce, and 1/2 of the cheese. Sprinkle with basil. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil.

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

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