Nothing says “comfort food” quite like a big bowl of cheesy pasta. But I’m going beyond the basic pasta dishes with a DIY take on baked ziti starring quick-fix tomato sauce made with Italian sausage and peppers, plus plenty of fresh mozzarella and grated Parmesan. Add a dishwasher-safe KitchenAid® Ceramic Nesting Casserole Dish to the equation and suddenly cleanup becomes just as easy as whipping up this guaranteed crowd favorite.
Begin by sautéing either sweet or spicy Italian sausage in the KitchenAid® Stainless Steel Sauté Pan until the sausage is browned and cooked throughout. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a plate and leave any caramelized bits on the bottom of the pan.
Then it’s time for the minced garlic, sliced bell peppers, crushed tomatoes and tomato paste to work their magic. A pinch of sugar helps balance out the tartness of the tomatoes before returning the cooked sausage to the pan. And just like that, your homemade sauce is complete!
Cook the ziti until the noodles are al dente, then drain them and toss them with the prepared sauce. At this point, the mixture can be separated into several smaller casserole dishes or into one large dish.
Add half of the pasta to the casserole dish, top it with half of the sliced mozzarella and then repeat each layer, ending with the cheese on top. Bake the ziti for about 25 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
Remove the baked ziti from the oven and top it with the shredded Parmesan cheese and a few leaves of fresh basil. Easy, cheesy and meaty. What more could you need in a meal-in-a-bowl?
Cheesy Baked Ziti with Sausage and Peppers
1 pound ziti or penne pasta
1 pound bulk Italian sausage (sweet or spicy)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium red bell peppers, cut into slices
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Fresh basil, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and set it aside.
Add the sausage to a KitchenAid® Stainless Steel Sauté Pan set over medium-low heat. Cook it, breaking it apart with a spatula, until it’s cooked throughout. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a paper towel-lined plate. Leave any brown bits in the pan and increase the heat to medium. Add the olive oil and peppers and cook them, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the garlic. Cook it, stirring constantly, until it’s golden brown. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and sugar to the pan and cook, stirring, until combined. Taste and season the sauce with salt and pepper.
Toss together the pasta with the sauce then transfer half of it to the KitchenAid® 3.5-quart Ceramic Nesting Casserole Dish. Top the pasta with half of the sliced mozzarella. Add the remaining pasta to the dish and top it with the remaining sliced mozzarella. Bake the pasta for 20 to 25 minutes until the cheese is melted. Remove the pasta from oven, top it with grated Parmesan cheese, garnish it with basil leaves and serve.
*The Contributor of this post has been compensated by KitchenAid for this post, but this post represents the Contributor’s own opinion.*