If you make the sauce, it takes about an hour to prep this dish; if you use a jar of commercial sauce, it would take about 30 minutes.
Either way, it's well worth your effort. This is a crowd pleaser!
Start by making 1 batch of Bellissimo Plain tomato sauce (below) or you can use equivalent of store bought sauce: about 1 large jar
16 oz ziti (Whole grain is best, or plain white)
3cups (or handfuls) of baby spinach (stems removed)
15oz ricotta cheese (part skim)
½-1# nitrate-free Italian sausage depending on how much meat you like (I use mild Italian turkey sausage)
1 egg, beaten
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup fresh Italian parsley
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper,
8oz grated mozzarella cheese
Bellissimo Plain Sauce
2-28 oz cans Italian Tomatoes (do not drain)
1-8oz can tomato sauce.
Blend each can of tomatoes with juice in the blender on puree then place in a medium saucepan. Add the can of tomato sauce to the pan.
Add 1 T. of extra virgin olive oil, 3-4 whole cloves of garlic (peeled),
¼-½t. sea salt and 1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper. Stir.
Simmer tomatoes over medium low heat about 20 minutes (you don’t want it to boil; just simmer, stirring occasionally). Then add ¼-1/2 tsp ground fennel and about 1t. organic sugar (optional)*. Simmer for another 20 minutes or so. Stir occasionally.
My husband and I are both from Italian families. Every Italian family has their "sauce" recipe and a couple of family favorite recipes. I hope you enjoy this one which combines the Bellissimo famiy sauce with the Battista Ziti bake recipe. We see this often at family gatherings.
Mary Bellissimo Battista