Baked Ziti with Cream Sauce

This baked ziti is a staple in our kitchen and easy to make. The original recipes calls of sausage with I do not add to my recipe. The subtraction of sausage makes it a littler meal while absolutely no loss of flavor. I use Parmigiano Reggiano instead of Pecorino Romano because I have more of it on-hand. In the winter when its hard to find quality fresh basil, I skip it.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ziti noodles
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28-oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano (or Parmigiano Reggiano) cheese
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for serving
  • 8 oz whole milk mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)

Preparation

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the ziti according to the package directions for very al dente, about 7 minutes. (It will continue to cook in the oven so you want to undercook it just a bit.) Drain and add the pasta back to the pot. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425°F and set the oven rack in the middle position.
  3. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until soft but not browned, about 1 minute. Add the crushed tomatoes, salt, sugar and red pepper flakes and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the heavy cream, 1/3 cup of the Parmigiano Reggiano and basil to the pan; stir until evenly combined. Carefully pour the contents of the sauté pan into the large pot with the pasta and gently stir to combine. Spoon half of the mixture into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with half of the shredded mozzarella and half of the remaining Parmigiano Reggiano. Spoon the remaining pasta mixture on top and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and Parmigiano Reggiano. Transfer to the oven and bake, uncovered, until the cheese has melted and browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle with more basil and serve.

Notes: This dish can be assembled and refrigerated, covered, up to 2 days in advance. Since the dish will be cold, the baking time will need to be increased. To bake, cover tightly with aluminum foil and place in a 425°F oven for 25 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cheese is lightly browned and the pasta is hot throughout.

Source: Jenn Segal, Once Upon a Chef – Baked Ziti with Sausage

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