Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage


Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage
Makes: 4 to 6 servings
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Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage
Ingredients
  • 3  tablespoons  Olive oil
  • 1 19  ounce package  Johnsonville® Sweet Italian Sausage, casings removed (can use mild or hot sausage)
  • 1  small  Eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1  medium  Onion, chopped
  • 3  cloves  Garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/2  cup  Red wine
  • 1 28  ounce can  Crushed plum tomatoes
  • 4  cups  Ziti, cooked al dente
  • 1/4  cup  Chopped fresh basil
  • 1/3  cup  Chopped Kalamata olives
  • 2 1/2  cups  Shredded mozzarella cheese
  •  Kosher Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2  cup  Shredded parmesan cheese
Directions

1. To streamline preparation, the same oven proof fry pan can be used for sauteing the vegetables and sausages on the stove top and then baking the pasta dish in the oven.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and rinse in cold water, cover and set aside.

3. Position a rack in the upper third of an oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.

4. In a 12 nonstick fry pan. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil over medium heat. Add decased sausage and cook, crumbling with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink and cooked through about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl

5. Using the same pan, heat 4 teaspoons of the olive oil. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and the edges are starting to brown, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to the bowl with the sausage.

6. Set the same pan over medium heat and warm the remaining 2 tsp olive oil. Add the onion and cook until softened. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring to scrape up any brown bits. Cook until the liquid is almost evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add the can of crushed tomatoes and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.

7. In the bowl with the eggplant and sausage, add the cooked pasta, basil, olives, 2 cups of the mozzarella and the tomato sauce and mix to combine; season with salt and pepper.

8. Transfer this mixture to a 9x13 lightly oiled baking dish (or the oven proof 12 inch fry pan). Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella and the parmesan cheese on top. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and broil for 2-4 minutes, keeping a close eye, until the cheese is lightly golden.

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