You'll not only find four kinds of ooey, gooey cheese atop this tasty pasta dish, but also loads of tomato sauce, Italian sausage, garlic, and Italian seasonings, all of which make this baked ziti one of the most amazing pasta dishes ever.
2teaspoonsItalian herb seasoningor Herbs de Provence
salt and pepper to taste
1cupshredded parmesan cheese
4ouncessoftened cream cheese
Fill a large pot with water. Boil pasta 7-8 minutes til just tender. Drain and set pasta aside.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.
In a large skillet over medium heat, brown sausage - breaking into small pieces as it cooks - for 4-5 minutes. Stir in ziti noodles, garlic, marinara, and Italian seasoning.
Spread ziti mixture into an even layer in the bottom of your prepared pan.
In a bowl stir together ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella, parmesan, and cream cheese.
Drop dollops of the cheese mixture on top of the ziti until covered.
Sprinkle remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese over the top, tent with foil, and transfer to preheated oven.
Bake for 35-40 minutes til cheese is bubbly. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes until cheese begins to brown.
Allow to cool slightly before serving.
Since this dish includes sausage, I tend to use a non-meat marinara sauce so that the meaty flavors aren't competing.
Be careful not to overcook the pasta as it will cook again in the sauce as it bakes all together. I stop cooking my pasta when it's just al dente, or after about 7 minutes.
Keep leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the fridge or up to 3 months in the freezer. Thaw frozen baked ziti in the fridge before heating back up in the oven or microwave.
If you want to double this recipe, I suggest making two pans of this versus one giant pan. It would be easier to cook both in smaller dishes and easier to store leftovers. Plus, this dish can get heavy if you pile on too many things in one dish.