The Best Baked Ziti (Postpartum Ziti)

by Sheryl

Prep time: 40 mins | Cook time: 50 mins | Total time: 1 hr 30 mins | Servings: 12

I love this decadent casserole with Italian sausage marinara, cottage cheese, and fresh basil. It is the perfect treat for new moms out there.

Ingredients

olive oil
1 lb ziti, or penne/rigatoni if you can’t find ziti

Red sauce:

1 tsp sugar
1 lb mild Italian sausage
2 tsp dried oregano
5 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
1 tsp dried basil
1 (28 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1/2 c. fresh basil, chopped
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Cream:

1 tsp cornstarch
1 c. heavy cream, cold

Cottage cheese mixture:

1 lb cottage cheese
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 c. mozzarella cheese, chopped into 1/4” cubes
1 c. Parmesan cheese, grated

To top the casserole:

1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
more chopped basil, to garnish after baking
1 c. mozzarella cheese, chopped into 1/4” cubes

How to make The Best Baked Ziti (Postpartum Ziti)

Step 1: Prepare the oven. Preheat it to 375 degrees F. Using a nonstick spray, grease a deep 9 x 13-inch casserole dish.

Step 2: Add 1 lb Ziti (or any tubular pasta) in a 3-1uart pot with salted boiling water over high heat. Cook for about 5 to 7 minutes until just shy al dente. When done, drain the pasta into a colander, then drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Toss to distribute the oil. Set aside.

Step 3: To make the red sauce, crumble and cook 1 lb of Italian sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat until no longer pink. This takes about 5 minutes. When done, drain the excess grease.

Step 4: Adjust the heat to medium-high, then add 5 cloves minced garlic to the skillet. Then, add 2 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried basil, 1 tsp kosher salt, and half tsp black pepper. Cook for about a minute, stirring, until aromatic.

Step 5: To the skillet, add the can of tomato sauce and a can of diced tomatoes. Adjust the heat to medium and continue to cook until the mixture bubbles. Then, set the heat to medium-low and cook and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Step 6: Remove the skillet from the heat, then stir in 1 tsp sugar and half c. fresh chopped basil.

Step 7: Add 1 c. cold heavy cream in the now-empty pot where you boiled the pasta. Then, stir in 1 tsp cornstarch until the lumps are gone. Bring to a low simmer for about 3 to 4 minutes over medium heat while stirring. This will thicken the cream.

Step 8: In a medium bowl, beat 2 eggs, then add 1 lb cottage cheese. Mix well, then stir 1 cup each of Parmesan cheese and cubed mozzarella.

Step 9: Take the pot off the heat once the cream has thickened. Stir in the cottage cheese mixture and add 1 cup of red sauce. Mix well, then add the drained pasta. Toss well and pour everything into the greased pan. Over the pasta, spread the rest of the red sauce and top with 1 c. chopped mozzarella cheese and half cup Parmesan cheese.

Step 10: Using a nonstick spray, grease a sheet of foil. Tent the casserole with it. Place the casserole in the preheated oven and bake for about 25 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake for another 25 minutes.

Step 11: Move the oven rack to the highest position and broil the casserole for about 1 to 2 minutes to brown the cheese even more.

Step 12: Remove from the oven when done and allow the baked Ziti to sit for approximately 10 minutes. Then, serve garnished with some fresh chopped basil. Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts:

Calories: 519 kcal, carbohydrates: 37 g, protein: 26 g, fat: 30 g, saturated fat: 14 g, polyunsaturated fat: 2 g, monounsaturated fat: 10 g, trans fat: 1 g, cholesterol: 113 mg, sodium: 1341 mg, potassium: 569 mg, fiber: 3 g, sugar: 6 g, vitamin a: 994 iu, vitamin c: 9 mg, calcium: 336 mg, iron: 3 mg

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