Annie’s baked ziti is the best.
I’ve tried dozens of recipes, and DH was never quite satisfied with it….until now. He actually told me “Don’t change ANYTHING. Do it exactly this way, again”
That means he liked it. LOL
I did make some changes, and they’re noted below…
I also made this dish completely except for cooking it (I let the sauce mixture cool before assembling) and let my DH pop it in the oven for dinner the following night. The only change is it took about 20 more minutes in the oven, since it was cold from the fridge.
1 lb. whole milk or 1% cottage cheese
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 oz. grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 cups), divided
1 lb. ziti
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
20 oz. turkey Italian sausage (I used 1 lb. regular sweet italian sausage)
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
5 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 (28 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil leaves, divided (I used dried)
1 tsp. sugar
Ground black pepper
3/4 tsp. cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream (or whole milk)
8 oz. low-moisture mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
3 cups baby spinach (I added this to the cheese mixture)
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350° F.
- Whisk cottage cheese, eggs, and 1 cup Parmesan together in a medium bowl, gently stir in spinach; set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta; cook until pasta begins to soften but is not yet cooked through, 5-7 minutes. Drain the pasta and leave in colander.
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Crumble in the turkey sausage and cook until nearly browned.
- Add in the onion and garlic and continue to cook until the onion is softened and the sausage is completely browned.
- Stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and oregano; simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Off the heat, stir in 1/2 cup basil and the sugar, and season with salt and pepper.
- In a small bowl stir together the cornstarch and heavy cream. Transfer the mixture to the now-empty stockpot over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, 3-4 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat and add the cottage cheese mixture, 1 1/2 cups of the tomato sauce and 3/4 cup mozzarella. Stir to combine.
- Add the pasta and toss to coat thoroughly with the sauce.
- Transfer the pasta to a 9×13″ baking dish and spread the remaining tomato sauce evenly over the top.
- Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan over the top.
- Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove the foil from the pan and continue to cook until the cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes longer.
- Cool for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons basil and serve.