Pasta bake with sausage (baked ziti) is a lazy day lasagna with layers of pasta tossed in a rich meat sauce, layered with mozzarella, and baked.
- 1 pound (454 grams) penne pasta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound Italian sausage
- 1 cup onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 4 cups tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, divided
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper (or to taste)
- 3 cups fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add pasta and cook until al dente (fully cooked but still firm), about 8-10 minutes, or according to package directions. Drain well and set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large pot (or 4 qt. Dutch oven) for 2 minutes over medium-high heat until the hot oil sizzles. Add sausage and stir to cook until browned, about 5-7 minutes. Use a spatula to break the sausages into small pieces.
- Add onions and garlic and sauté until soft and tender, about 2-3 minutes. Stir to combine.
- Pour in tomato sauce, turn the heat down to medium, and bring the meat sauce to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Stir in Italian seasoning, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, parsley and basil. Season with salt and pepper.
- Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Simmering helps develop richer flavour in the sauce.
- Transfer the cooked and drained pasta into the sauce and toss well to mix evenly.
- Spread half of the pasta into a 9x13 casserole pan and top with half of mozzarella cheese (1.5 cups). Add the remaining pasta and sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese evenly on top.
- Bake the pasta for 25 minutes until the melted cheese is golden brown. Let cool for 15 minutes, then serve.
How to customize. You can use any kind of ground meat instead of sausage, such as ground beef, pork, turkey, or chicken. You may have to increase the amount of Italian seasoning used to compensate for the flavours in Italian sausage.
How to reheat: Reheat leftovers in a 375 F preheated oven for about 10 minutes until warmed through. You can also reheat a smaller portion on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave in 30 second increments until warm.
How to freeze: Once cooled to room temperature, transfer the sausage baked pasta to an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. To reheat, allow it to thaw in the refrigerator first, then reheat according to the instructions above.
How to make ahead: Cook the pasta and the sauce and allow them to cool down. Then, assemble as directed in the recipe and store covered in the refrigerator or freezer until you are ready to bake. If baking from frozen, allow it to thaw first overnight in the refrigerator or for a few hours on the kitchen counter.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Category: Pasta
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: pasta bake with italian sausage, pasta bake with sausage, sausage pasta bake, baked pasta with sausage, pasta and sausage casserole, pasta casserole