Baked Ziti Casserole

Baked Ziti Casserole
Makes about 10 servings

 So you knew you were going to have a house full of people last night.  And with plans dropped in your lap at the last minute, of course you’re first thought is, “oh-oh!  I need something fast, easy and filling!”   What about the old standby Baked Ziti. With one of these, a load of garlic bread, and a salad you have a meal that is sure to please and feed 8-10 people easily.

  • 1      pound ziti pasta (penne works, too)
  • 1      tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1      pound sweet or hot bulk Italian sausage
  • 1      large onion, diced
  • 3      cloves garlic, minced
  • 1      teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2      teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2      teaspoon dried thyme
  • 28      ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 15      ounces diced tomatoes
  • 16      ounces  cottage cheese
  • 16      ounces ricotta cheese
  • 8      ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1      bunch 10 to 12 ounces kale, chopped and blanched
  • Kosher      salt
  • Freshly      ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a 9 by 13-inch casserole dish and set aside.

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the sausage and brown in the oil. Once the sausage is browned, add the onion, garlic, basil, oregano, and thyme. Continue to cook for a few minutes until the onions are softened and translucent. Add the crushed and diced tomatoes and the kale. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 more minutes. Adjust the seasonings to taste with salt and pepper. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the prepared pasta.

 

In a mixing bowl, stir together the cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, and 2/3 of the mozzarella cheese. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.

Spread 1/3 of the pasta in the bottom of the prepared casserole dish. Then, spread 1/3 of the cheese mixture on top. Repeat with layers of pasta, cheese, and finally one more layer of pasta. Dot the top with the remaining cheese mixture and sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese on top.

Bake uncovered for about 30-35 minutes, until the casserole is bubbly and the cheese is golden.

Serving Suggestion: