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Baked Ziti with Sausage

This dish started off as a "got to make this dish one day" and morphed into a "my friends and I are drunk and need to eat" dish to a "can we have that one dish again please?"

This is a mish mash of 2 Kenji Lopez-Alt recipes: The Food Lab's No-Boil Baked Ziti and Easy Skillet Baked Ziti With Sausage and Ricotta. I had shopped for one recipe but in my post festivities state I was trying to follow the instructions for the other recipe. I wanted to try the real recipes but my friends all said why mess with a good thing. So below is my version of Kenji's baked ziti dish with sausage.

Browning the sausage:
I always let one side sear very heavily in the pan before I start to move the meat around. This way you can get parts with deep flavor but not overcook and dry out the whole batch.

Cooking the onions:
To get  translucent onions with no browning, reduce heat to medium, create an even bed of meat to elevate the onions from the bottom of the pan, all the onions on top and cover the pan without stirring the onions. The steam will break down the onions and the meat will keep them from browning. Once the onions start to get translucent, I reduce the heat a smidge more, stir the mixture together and cover. Stir occasionally to keep the onions from browning.

Special Equipment:
Hand/ stick/ immersion blender
13"x 9" casserole dish

Baked Ziti with Sausage

Prep time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes


For the red sauce (or your favorite red sauce):

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, smashed or crushed
  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 Tablespoon oregano, dried
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 28 oz whole tomatoes in juice
  • 4 oz (1 stick) butter
For the pasta:

  • 1 lb rigatoni, dried
  • 1 Tablespoon salt, kosher

  • 1 lb Italian sausage, bulk (no casing)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 Tablespoons parsley, minced and divided (2 T and 1 T for garnish)

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup cream, half and half or whole milk
  • 1 lb low moisture mozzarella whole milk cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

Salt and pepper to taste


  • Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 400F.
  • If making sauce from scratch, In a 5 quart pot with lid, heat olive oil and garlic on medium heat. Stir frequently until garlic is light golden brown on all sides.
  • Add tomato paste and stir until well incorporated with oil.
  • Add oregano and red pepper flakes if using.
  • Add whole tomatoes and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and break up tomatoes with immersion blender until desired consistency (I like it chunky).
  • Add butter, cover and let come to a rapid boil for 5 minutes until butter is well incorporated into sauce.
  • Remove cover and let simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Once the sauce looks thick and is deep red in color, remove from heat.
  • In a large bowl, pour hot water over rigatoni and salt until the pasta is covered by 3 - 4 inches. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, over high heat in a large skillet brown sausage until no longer pink. Lower heat to medium, add onions, stir occasionally. Covering the pan should help the onions cook without browning. Cook until onions are translucent. Remove from heat and stir in parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Remove 2 cups of red sauce and set aside.
  • Combine eggs and cream/ milk. Stir egg mixture into sauce remaining in pot, mix well. Stir in pasta, 3/4 of the cheese cubes, and sausage mixture. Pour into a buttered casserole dish.
  • Pour the remaining red sauce on top of casserole do the top with the remaining cheese cubes. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes.

To make ahead and store for a rainy day:
This is a hefty portion. I use 3 of these foil containers to make 2 - 3 servings sizes to store in the freezer. I bake covered for only 15 minutes, let cool, put lid on, then vacuum seal.

HandiFoil 7" TakeOut To-Go Round Restaurant Disposable Aluminum Foil Pan sets with Flat Board Lids, 25 Count, 7 1/8"x 7 1/8" x 1 1/2" deep


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