Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Since my husband has a little bit of Italian in him, I feel the need to create not just mediocre Italian dishes for him, but really great ones. He loves a hearty lasagna or baked ziti, and it's so satisfying to see him get excited when I make one of these dishes for him.
I found this baked ziti recipe a while back and have made it a handful of times. Each time it seems better than the last. The thick chunks of sausage make it so filling and satisfying. It's overflowing with onions and peppers and garlic which make it taste really fresh.
This is a pretty easy dish to prepare. The boiling of the pasta and the chopping of the veggies are what make it rather time consuming, but it's really foolproof. Throw in some ground beef or some of your other favorite veggies to give it your own spin. But don't add too much - the 13" by 9" dish that I bake this in is always nearly overflowing when I pour it all in. We had this last night and barely made a dent in it because it's so huge. This means leftovers for lunch for the next few days... I can envision my hubby sitting at his desk at work chowing down and smiling...
Sausage and Pepper Baked Ziti
(from Good Housekeeping magazine)
1 and 1/2 pounds sweet and/or hot Italian sausage links, cut crosswise into 1-inch chunks
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 large green, yellow, and/or red peppers, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 onion, cut in half, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
28 oz. can crushed or whole tomatoes in puree
15 oz. can tomato puree
1 tsp. salt
1 pound ziti or penne pasta
1 package (8 oz.) part-skim mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1. Prepare sauce: In deep nonstick skillet, cook sausage over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until browned on all sides, stirring occasionally.
2. Reduce heat to medium. Discard all but 2 tablespoons sausage fat. To sausage in skillet, add garlic, peppers, and onion, and cook, covered, 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomatoes with their puree, tomato puree, and salt; heat to boiling over medium heat, breaking up tomatoes if necessary with side of spoon. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat large covered saucepot of salted water to boiling over high heat. Add pasta; cook 2 minutes less than cooking time recommended on label.
4. Drain pasta. Return to pot; stir in sauce to coat. Add mozzarella; toss to combine. Transfer pasta mixture to ungreased 13" by 9" glass or ceramic baking dish and spread evenly; sprinkle with Romano.
5. Bake, uncovered, 20 to 25 minutes or until top browns and sauce is bubbling. Let stand 10 minutes for easier serving.
Makes about 10 servings.