I would love to take credit for this recipe, but I can't. D dreamed it up a few weeks ago, when he was craving baked ziti and we realized that neither of us actually knows what baked ziti is - I'm pretty sure this isn't it. It just sounds good, right? We've made this dish three times since it was invented, and we're seriously in love.
D's baked pasta (makes 6 - 8 servings)
1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce (we recommend the pesto and sundried tomato marinara from Whole Foods)
1 (12 oz) container of the best ricotta you can get, preferably fresh
Some snips of fresh basil, if you've got it around
2 good quality raw sausages, optional (we use the hot pork sausages made in house at WF)
12 ounces of your favorite penne pasta* (we use multi grain flax from TJs)
Small handful of grated cheese (pyranno is my fave)
1. Get your pasta water on the stove so it can start heating up while you do everything else.
2. Slice the skin on the sausage and dump the meat into a skillet to cook. You could probably just slice the sausage but I'm still a little freaked out about sausage skin for some reason.
3. Pour your marinara sauce into a medium bowl and add the ricotta, the chopped basil and a dash of salt and pepper. Stir it around. Sneak little bites to make sure it tastes right.
4. Put the pasta in the boiling water and cook till it's just slightly less cooked than you actually like it to be. Drain.
5. Stir the cooked sausage into the marinara mixture.
6. Pour half of the marinara mixture into the bottom of an 8x8" pan. Layer the cooked pasta on top. Pour the remaining marinara over the pasta. Sprinkle with the grated cheese.
7. Bake at 375 F for about 45 minutes, until the sauce bubbles and the cheese melts.
You'll be amazed at how fast this all comes together. It's super easy and doesn't take much concentration - perfect for a weeknight.
*Sorry, I use a food scale for measuring pasta, so I don't know how many cups this is. Pasta usually comes in 16 oz bags, so 12 oz would be about 3/4 of the bag, if that helps.