Ziti

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Now here’s a classic midweek meal, or a hot dish to bring to a potluck. Baked ziti is a lot like American lasagna, but easier to make; it has practically the same ingredients but you don’t have to fuss with lots of layers or broken noodles. This recipe is a pretty basic version, but everyone who makes baked ziti has their own unique tricks and twists to it. Some vary the cheeses, some the meat, some make meatless versions, and some people leave out the tomato sauce for a truly cheese-tastic casserole.

This version uses bulk Italian sausage, as well as a key fresh herb. In summer, that would be basil. In winter, rosemary. You could also easily use savory, sage, thyme or parsley. Ziti is a pretty common pasta shape in most areas, but you can substitute penne pasta if you can’t find it. You want a substantial short pasta shape with places to hold the sauce and meat. You can make this ahead, and either refrigerate or freeze before you do the final baking.