I love a good baked pasta dish, especially one that makes so much food that I don’t have to worry about dinner for one or two other nights. Like all baked pastas, this baked ziti delivers on that one for sure.
My only real problem with baked pastas is that I think they end up being on the dry side, since the pasta ends up absorbing so much of the moisture from the sauce during baking. I can assure you that you don’t have to worry about that in this dish, because it calls for two large jars of pasta sauce- and I’m talking the big boys here. This keeps the pasta nice and moist throughout the baking.
But we all know that the ultimate reason to make a big dish of baked ziti is for all the gooey, melty cheesy goodness- the top layer of the the pasta, much like the top layer of nachos, is where its at. The key is sub-surface cheese- so I cubed up some fresh mozzarella and pushed it in to the pasta, creating pockets of melted cheese throughout the dish. Of course, there’s plenty of cheese on top too. *wink*
Tools needed to make this ziti pasta recipe:
- For any pasta recipe, a large pot for boiling pasta is essential.
- I love my cast iron skillet for browning the Italian sausage in this recipe, but I use it for so many other recipes, too!
- The only other thing you need for this recipe is a baking dish.
If you liked this Oven Baked Ziti, check out these other easy pasta recipes:
- One Pot Pasta with Shrimp, Sausage and Vodka Sauce
- Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti
- Spinach Artichoke Dip One Pot Pasta
- Cheesy Chicken Bacon and Kale Pasta Bake
- 1 lb dried ziti pasta
- 1 1/3 lb mild italian sausage
- 2 large jars pasta sauce
- 4 oz. fresh spinach
- 8 oz fresh mozzarella half cut into 1/2" pieces, half thinly sliced
- 1 cup six cheese italian cheese blend
- Preheat the oven to 375.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain; set aside.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the sausage, then add the sauce to the skillet along with the fresh spinach. Pour in the drained pasta and toss (or gently stir) to combine until the spinach is fully wilted.
- Spray a large baking dish with nonstick spray, and pour in the sausage and pasta.
- Push the 1/2" pieces of fresh mozzarella into the pasta evenly throughout the pan.
- Top with the shredded cheese and slices of mozzarella.
- Transfer to the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cheese has melted and is beginning to brown. Allow to set for 10 minutes before serving.