Battista Baked Ziti


Prep Time

1 hour

Prep Notes

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!


Cooking Time

30 minutes

Yields

6-8 servings

Ingredients

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 grandma always added this but I don’t usually.  Start with 1t. to see how you like it.  Some tomatoes need it and some do not. The same goes for the fennel, start with¼ t to see how you like it.  You can always add more.

Directions

  1. Make Plain sauce recipe
  2. Cook ziti in a large Dutchoven according to package directions-drain.  Add spinach a minute or so before the pasta is finished just so it wilts.   Then drain.  Set aside.
  3. In same Dutch oven, brown sausage and drain any fat.  Remove from heat.  Then add ricotta,beaten eggs, Parmesan, parsley, salt and pepper.  Mix well.  Add half of the sauce, mix.  Add drained ziti/spinach; toss with mixture. Put in a large greased lasagna pan or 9x13” pan   Top with more of the sauce to cover the top(  you may not need it all) and top with grated cheese.  I like to sprinkle some Parmesan on top as well.  Bake 25-30 minutes at 350* or until hot and bubbly. If you don’t want it too saucy, then don’t use all of the plain sauce.  It’s nice to have extra for re-heating as well, or you can pass it when you serve the pasta.    

Notes

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. 

Credit

Mary Bellissimo Battista