Baked Ziti with Sausage

Many years ago I picked up a magazine in the checkout line of the grocery store that has served as the inspiration for many good recipes over the last decade.  The magazine was geared towards “lighter fare” so I’ve tended to add back the fat to many of the original recipes, adding my own spin and more flavor.  This baked ziti is a perfect example of that and has become my favorite pasta recipe and is perfect to serve a big group – even 10 or 12 people.  It’s a delicious blend of tender pasta, spicy italian sausage, a simple homemade tomato sauce and lots of mozzarella, all baked together and topped with fresh basil and parmesan cheese.  

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This dish is ideal to serve at night when the temperature starts to dip and you’re looking for something to warm you up, or for a Sunday football game with friends, or to deliver to a friend in need of a meal.  It’s easy to prepare in advance and bake right before serving, and the leftovers are just as good reheated the next day.

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Baked Ziti with Sausage
Serves 10
This baked pasta dish with tomatoes, sausage and cheese is perfect to serve a crowd and can be prepared in advanced, then baked just before serving.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 pound pasta in corkscrew shape
  2. 1 pound mild italian sausage
  3. 1 onion, diced
  4. 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  5. 2 cans of petite diced tomatoes (14.5 oz each)
  6. 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  7. 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  8. 1/4 fresh basil leaves
  9. 1/4 cup shredded parmesan
  10. Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Boil a large pot of water, season with water and add the pasta, cooking to the package instructions. Remove from the stove, drain, rinse and return to the large pot. Set aside.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, heat a large saucepan over medium heat, and add the sausage, breaking into small pieces.
  4. Add the onion and garlic to the sausage, and cook until the sausage is browned and the onions are translucent.
  5. Add the canned tomatoes and paste to the sausage, stirring to combine.
  6. Bring to a simmer and cover, cooking for 10 minutes, stirring 1-2 times.
  7. After 10 minutes, remove the cover from the sauce and combine with the pasta in the original large pot, stirring carefully.
  8. Prepare a large glass 9x11 baking dish by spraying with cooking spray.
  9. Add half the pasta to the pan, then top with the mozzarella cheese, then top with the remaining pasta.
  10. Bake the pasta for 30 minutes until heated through.
  11. Rough chop the basil. Serve the pasta in a large bowl, and top with chopped basil leaves and parmesan cheese.
Notes
  1. This delicious dish is easy to prepare gluten free by substituting gluten free pasta and ensuring the sausage you use is labeled as gluten free.
Adapted from Cooking Light
Adapted from Cooking Light
In Bryna's Kitchen http://www.inbrynaskitchen.com/

Tuna Pasta Pea Salad

When I was about 10 years old, one of my favorite things to do on the weekend was to drive to the Southdale Mall with my mom to go shopping.  We’d go to Dayton’s (before it was Marshall Fields and then Macy’s) to shop for clothes, shoes, whatever my mom needed for the house…  It always felt like such a treat to wander this huge store and to take the place in. Growing up in a small farming town there was nothing of this magnitude within a 30 minute drive so it always felt special to me to visit.  Our shopping trip always included a stop for lunch at the top floor of the Dayton’s store in the deli where they served all sorts of salads and soft serve ice cream.  I ordered the tuna pasta salad with peas EVERY SINGLE TIME I went there.  Seriously.  Every. Single. Time.  And in my lifetime the number of store visits with lunch probably exceeds 50.  That’s a lot of pasta salad.  I’m not a fan of variety when I find what I like. 

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And look at that – what’s not to like?  This salad is a breeze to make and gets better the next day, so go ahead and make this for a light lunch, a shared salad for a party or an easy-to-transport lunch to bring to work.  Just beware that there’s mayo in this recipe so if you’re enjoying it outside in the hot summer months be sure to keep it on ice.  Food poisoning is no joke, people.

So on that light and happy note – let’s get down to business with the recipe!  Just a few considerations:

  • Canned tuna – this salad is best with Solid Albacore Tuna in water.  That’s not to say you can’t use Chunk Light or a tuna in oil, but I’ll go with Solid Albacore 100% of the time when I have the option.  The flavor is lighter and the color of the tuna is lighter in color as well. 
  • Pasta shape – I prefer to make this salad with the small rings you see in this photo, but really you can use any shape pasta you like, or a gluten-free one, too.  Just know that the larger your pasta shape, the more mayo you’re going to need to maintain the same moisture level given the increased pasta surface you’re trying to cover.
  • Mayo – I prefer the Hellman’s or Kraft brands but you could add some kick to this using Miracle Whip or another seasoned dressing instead or in addition to the mayo, like Dijon Mustard.

That’s it!  Enjoy, my food friends, and share feedback or ideas in the comment section!

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Tuna Pasta Pea Salad
This chilled pasta salad with tuna, celery and peas is a refreshing and light meal for a warm summer day.
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Prep Time
30 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 box of small pasta rings
  2. 1 cup mayo
  3. 1/2 bag of frozen peas (do not defrost)
  4. 5 stalks of celery, halved lengthwise and diced
  5. 1 shallot, fined minced
  6. 1 can solid white albacore tuna, drained thoroughly
  7. Ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Boil water and cook the pasta according to the instructions, being sure to add salt to the water during the cooking process.
  2. Drain and rinse the pasta once done cooking.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the mayo, peas, celery, shallot and tuna and stir to break up the tuna into smaller pieces.
  4. Add the pasta to the bowl and stir to combine all ingredients.
  5. Add fresh ground black pepper to taste, stir to combine and taste for flavoring.
  6. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving, or overnight.
Notes
  1. This salad is easy to modify to make gluten free - just substitute a gluten free noodle and make sure the mayo you use is gluten free - that's it!
In Bryna's Kitchen http://www.inbrynaskitchen.com/