Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sausage & Pepper Baked Ziti

A few years ago, my sister-in-law and I got together to make some freezer meals.  We picked out recipes and shopped ahead of time, and then cooked away while our babies slept.  One of the recipes we made was this baked ziti, and it's actually the only one that I still make often today.

I love how healthy it is, and that it's a change-up from your every-day Italian baked ziti.  I really get sick of that, don't you?  This recipe was originally meant to make two casseroles, one to eat right away, and one to freeze for later.  It also says it makes 8 servings total, but I have found that each casserole feeds more like 5-6.  If you plan to freeze one for later, buy an aluminum 9x9 pan, and wrap it in foil after preparing, but before baking.  Cool in refrigerator, then freeze.  Transfer it from the freezer to refrigerator the night before you plan on eating it.

Sausage & Pepper Baked Ziti
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1 pound sweet and/or hot Italian or Turkey sausage links, casings removed
4 cloves garlic, finely minced or crushed with press
2 large red, orange, or yellow peppers, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
1 jumbo onion, cut in half, then sliced into 1/4 inch slices
1 pound sliced white mushrooms
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can tomato puree or petite diced tomatoes
1 tsp salt
1 pound whole wheat ziti or penne pasta
1-2 cups part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to box directions, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water
In deep 12-inch skillet, cook sausage on medium heat for 10 minutes, or until browned, breaking up as it cooks.  Transfer to small bowl and set aside.  Remove any drippings left in pan.

Preheat oven to 400*F.
Cook garlic, peppers, onion, and mushrooms, covered (stirring occasionally) for 10 minutes.  Remove lid and cook 8 minutes more, or until liquid is evaporated.  Stir in tomatoes and salt.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 10 minutes.  Add sausage, cheese, and pasta into sauce.  If needed, add some of reserved pasta water.  Divide into two 2 1/2 quart baking dishes (I use an 8x8 pan), or one 9x13 if making just one pan. Sprinkle Pecorino or Parmesan over the top and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until top browns and sauce is bubbling.  Let stand ten minutes before serving.

Yield: 8-12 servings total
Source: adapted from Good Housekeeping


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