Tip of the Week

Monday, October 10, 2011

West's Baked Ziti

What do you fix on a rainy, misty fall evening?  Not stew or soup, but a baked pasta dish.  I was inspired by Foodnetwork's Neely's Baked Ziti and created my own West's Baked Ziti

Here it is:

Salt to taste
Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 pound ziti (or penne)
1 pound chicken sausage (any of your choice), sliced OR turkey sausage, casing removed
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large or 4 small yellow bell peppers, chopped
8-12 baby bella mushrooms, chopped
3 cloved of garlic, chopped
1 25.5 oz jar of pasta sauce (I suggest Muir Glen's Organic Fire Roasted or Roasted Garlic) or Homemade
6 ounces Arugula-Basil pesto (make your own here)
1 9 oz bag of washed spinach
2+ cups shredded mozzarella
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan or Pecorino-Romano

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (or boil water in electric kettle and then add to pot) over high heat.  Add pasta and cook until al dente.  Drain.

In a large skillet over medium heat add olive oil, saute mushrooms.  Add onion, garlic and bell peppers.  Saute until the onions are translucent.  Add pasta sauce, red pepper flakes and salt to taste.  Let cook for a few minutes, then add pesto.  Add spinach.  Let simmer about 10 minutes.  Optional you can add some wine if desired.

Make sure you have sprayed or buttered baking dish.  Add pasta and sauce to baking dish.  Then saute sliced chicken sausage in pan, until slightly brown and cooked through.  If using turkey sausage saute until cooked through.  Add to pasta mixture.

Stir in cheese mixture and make sure all ingredients are mixed well.  Top with some of the cheese mixture.

Bake until completely heated through and golden on top or about 20 minutes.

Note: You can add ricotta cheese if you more cheese.  OR you can reduce the amounts of cheese (which I did in the picture).

Time to start cooking!  This dish will fill your stomach and warm your soul.

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