Creamy and cheesy baked Ziti with Sausage is smothered in a Parmesan and Mozzarella cheese sauce and then baked until the perfect golden crust forms on top. Family favorite dinner recipe that tastes like lasagna, but without all the hard work.
This baked ziti with sausage is your classic pasta recipe that is comforting and filling. It tastes a lot like a lasagna casserole, but much easier to make. It’s also a perfect hidden veggie pasta bake for those of us who either need help in getting their daily intake of vegetables, or have children that stubbornly refuse them. Healthy vegetables, such as broccoli and spinach are so finely hidden in this Baked Ziti with Sausage, that I had to really dig for them in order to take these photos to prove that they are truly there! My picky 8 year old who lives on bread, meat and pasta only didn’t even question the finely chopped green pieces.
TIPS AND TRICKS on BAKED ZITI RECIPE
- What kind of sausage to use? Use Italian sausage, such as pork sausage, flavored with fennel, red wine, and oregano. You can also use leftover cooked sausage.
- You can use either fresh or frozen spinach and broccoli.
- Sausage will be cooked together with spinach and broccoli (to soften the veggies) on the stove top.
- While they are cooking, mix ricotta, egg, parsley, mozarella cheese, and parmesan cheese in a large bowl.
- Finally, add all ingredients and pasta sauce to the same skillet. This is where oven proof cast iron skillet comes very handy and bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.
- Tip: To make the top of baked ziti more crusty, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Then uncover and bake for 10-15 minutes more.
- You can use a 12 inch cast iron skillet like this one. We also successfully made it in 8 inch square glass baking dish like this one. If using a baking dish, you will still need to use another skillet to precook sausage. Therefore, if you want fewer dishes to wash and just a much easier process, I would suggest using an oven safe skillet.
- This is a super versatile recipe, and you can add all kinds of veggies to this pasta bake. Add artichokes, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, or asparagus. Or, bacon!
HOW TO NOT OVERCOOK PASTA
- Cook pasta al dente, just long enough so that it is not hard but not soft either. The pasta should have a firm texture.
- If you did over cook the pasta, rinse the pasta with cold water to stop the cooking process immediately.
- But, do not rinse pasta if you did not overcook it. Because you don’t want to rinse pasta after cooking, especially if you plan to use the pasta with the sauce in the pasta bake. Rinsing pasta removes the starch that helps hold and absorb the sauce. After cooking pasta al dente, drain it in a colander without rinsing it with water. This keeps the starch with pasta and allows the sauce to stick to pasta in your baked ziti.
How to reheat Baked Ziti with Sausage
Simply add extra sauce to the reheating pan, add leftover baked ziti and reheat. It keeps well in the fridge for up to 1 week and is a good choice of something that can be made ahead of the work week.
You can also reheat it in the oven by preheating to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
How to freeze Baked Ziti with Sausage
Transfer baked ziti to an air tight storage container and freeze. When frozen you can pop it out of the container and put in a freezer bag if desired.
MAKE THIS PASTA BAKE GLUTEN FREE
Because everything is made from scratch in this recipe, to make it gluten free all you have to do is use gluten free pasta. Gluten free brown rice elbow macaroni or penne pasta will work great. After cooking gluten free pasta al dente, make sure to rinse it with cold water to prevent it from getting mushy.
If you enjoy pasta dishes that also include vegetables, you might also like Chicken and Mushroom Pasta in Pesto Wine Sauce, Chicken with Spinach and Mushrooms in Creamy Parmesan Sauce and Ricotta Stuffed Pasta Shells with Spinach and Sausage.
Baked Ziti with Sausage, Broccoli and Spinach
- 1 lb ziti pasta, cooked al dente
- 1 lb Italian sausage, cooked and chopped
- 15 oz ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons parsley
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded, divided
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese
- 28 oz. pasta sauce
- 1 cup broccoli, chopped
- 1 cup spinach, chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In the oven safe pan (cast iron or stainless steel), cook sausage until browned. Add broccoli and spinach and continue cooking together with sausage.
- In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil and cook ziti according to package directions; drain. Add to the pan with sausage and mix together.
- Mix ricotta, egg, parsley, 1-½ cups of the mozarella cheese, and parmesan cheese in a large bowl.
- Add it to the pan with cooked sausage.
- Now mix in ¾ jar of sauce.
- Top with the rest of the sauce and mozarella cheese.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only. This information comes from online calculators. Although whatsinthepan.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.
I’m a little confused about instructions, do I cook sausage first then add the vegetables or do I dump them all in and cook together.
Jackie, I just updated the instructions to make them more clear. You do cook the sausage and vegetables first, while boiling ziti in a different pan. Then you add ziti to the sausage mixture, followed by ricotta, sauce, etc. and bake it in the oven.
gary s hale says
why the egg? don’t usually see that in baked ziti
Because ricotta will bake up to a dry and grainy layer without an egg.
So delicious I got no complaints from the kids
So easy to make! It’s perfect for leftovers
My kids love this! We omit spinach though