I have a go-to recipe that I take to anyone that had a baby, etc… it is just so easy and makes a ton! With one recipe I am able to make a 9×13 pan for a friend and an 8×8 pan for us to have that night! The original recipe came from Food Network, but I have since changed it so much that I thought I better write down what I do. I’ve been asked by a few people for the recipe, so here you go! I call it Baked Ziti, but it doesn’t really resemble any Baked Ziti I’ve had, and I don’t even use ziti noodles, hence the quotations around ziti! :)
1 pound pasta (I like to use Penne)
1 pound Italian sausage (we like spicy but you can do mild)
3/4 cup – 1 cup pesto sauce (I buy the big jar from Costco, so I use about 1/3 of that jar for the recipe)
2 14-oz cans petite diced tomatoes
1 pound mozzarella cheese, grated, reserve a little for the very end
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated, reserve a little for the very end
1 32 oz Ricotta Cheese
1 bag fresh baby spinach (I remove the long stems so just the leaves remain)
2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper
Make pasta according to directions, drain, and set aside. Brown the Italian sausage. When cooked through, add pesto, tomatoes, and season with the garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Let simmer for 10 minutes. While that is simmering, in a large bowl mix the mozzarella, parmesan, Ricotta cheese, spinach, and about 1 tsp of salt. When the sauce is finished simmering, add it to the pasta and mix to coat all pasta. Grease a 9×13 and 8×8 pan. Pour pasta and sauce in the bottom of each pan until you have evenly distributed all pasta. Spoon cheese and spinach mixture on top of each pan. I use the back of a wooden spoon to smooth out the cheese to cover the entire pasta. Top with remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
When ready to eat, bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted on top.
I also love to freeze this one! Just put plastic wrap around it and freeze! When ready to eat, thaw overnight in the fridge, remove plastic wrap, recover with foil, and bake at 350 until heated through. It depends on if it is still a little frozen how long it takes- sometimes 30 min-1 hour. Then I remove the foil for the last 10 minutes of baking.
Serve with warm bread and salad and dinner is served! Hope you enjoy this one as much as we do!