Thursday, March 30, 2017

Baked Ziti - a great pasta dish for a potluck

Even though we like to cook and eat, I do have to say that I don't always feel the most confident when it comes to selecting something to prepare for a potluck or to bring as a meal to someone. 
Here's a picture of the ingredients you will be using:
1 pound dry ziti pasta - If you can't find ziti in the store, feel free to substitute penne or rigatoni
1 pound Italian sausage - You can decide for yourself whether to go with mild or spicy
1 onion, chopped - If the spaghetti sauce has onions in it, you can omit the onion if you wish
1-2 teaspoons chopped garlic - Again, if the sauce is already heavy on the garlic you can omit this 
2 (26 ounce) jars spaghetti sauce - We like the Paul Newman Sockarooni kind; we've also  – mixed and matched two different kinds to blend in different flavors – e.g. a roasted garlic and a peppers & onions
8 ounces of sliced provolone cheese 
1 1/2 cups sour cream
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1.   Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti pasta, and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes; drain.
2.   In a large skillet, brown onion and Italian sausage over medium heat. 
3.   Add spaghetti sauce, and simmer 15 minutes.
4.   Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Use a deep 9x13 inch baking dish. Layer as follows: 1/2 of the ziti, Provolone cheese, sour cream, 1/2 sauce mixture, remaining ziti, mozzarella cheese and remaining sauce mixture. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.
5.   Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheeses are melted.

Here are some of the hints for making the baked ziti a bit easier. First of all, is this amazing Pampered Chef chopper tool that makes browning the sausage much easier. I highly recommend it.
Note: for step 3, spread out the provalone cheese slices so that they cover the pasta. That makes spreading the sour cream over the provalone cheese easier.
If you don't have a deep 9x13 inch pan, consider using a regular oblong cake pan and a square 9x9 pan. That way, you have something to bring to the potluck and dinner for yourself for another night. 
This picture shows an oblong pan with the second layer of ziti set down and ready for the mozzarella cheese and more sauce!
Here we have a 9x9 inch pan with the ziti that has been baked and is ready for eating!
Serve with a salad and breadsticks. Enjoy!