Easy Baked Ziti with Spicy Italian Sausage
Guess what? Johnsonville has a new Sausage Support Center for all of your recipe questions or ideas. Just call 844-9-SAUSAGE, or text 97406 to chat with Bob the Bot! Or, check out the Sausage Support Center web site at www.sausagesupportcenter.com. More information below.
This baked ziti recipe is quick and easy to prepare and feeds a crowd, made with ziti noodles, melty mozzarella cheese, and loads of spicy Italian sausage. A perfect midweek dinner for the family.
“What’s for Dinner?” Now that school is back in session, isn’t that the question of the evening? For some, it is a question that inspires panic, induces a frenzied dash to the refrigerator in search of evening meal possibilities. When you’re crazy busy, it can be hard to come up with dinner ideas. Guess what? Johnsonville has you covered, in more ways than one.
Johnsonville products are top quality, something we always have in our fridge or freezer, ready for weeknight meals with big flavors. AND, starting September 5th, they’re launching an all-new Sausage Support Center. For 9 days, you can call or text the Johnsonville Bob Bot, a chatbot robot armed with all of Johnsonville’s sausage knowledge and tons of recipe ideas. The “Bob Bot” was created after 7-year Johnsonville employee, Bob, who also happens to be a former Green Bay Packer.
I texted and chatted a bit with Bob the Bot and learned a bit about why Johnsonville sausages come in packes of 5, Johnsonville product information, as well a fun anecdote of how Bob’s fishing buddies played a funny prank on him. And, I got LOADS of recipe ideas, like Cheesy Bratwurst & Broccoli Pastry Wraps, Pumpkin French Toast Bake, and Italian Sausage Penne. Talk about inspiration!
Contact the Sausage Support Center for all of your recipe questions or ideas. Just call 844-9-SAUSAGE, or text 97406 to chat with Bob! Or, check out the Sausage Support Center web site at www.sausagesupportcenter.com.
Bob’s suggestions inspired me to make this super Easy Baked Ziti with Spicy Italian Sausage. Boom!
It’s a huge pan that will feed your whole family, or will feed a smaller group and you can save the rest for later in the week. It’s a perfect leftover meal and keeps nicely.
I chose to work with Johnsonville’s Hot Italian Sausage, which I have always loved. You know I love things spicy, and these sausages deliver.
You can very easily swap in Johnsonville Mild Italian Sausage for this recipe to tame the spice level, or even try other Johnsonville products, like their new Flame Grilled Chicken, which you can see below. There are multiple seasoning options available and they’re fully cooked, so you can save even more time in the kitchen.
Saving time is always a good thing, especially when you’re a slow cook like me.
So let’s get cooking!
First things first – cook up the Italian sausages according to the instructions on the packaging. I did them up in a pan on the stove to make it quick and easy. When they are cooked through, cool them a bit and slice them into 1/2 inch slices.
While the sausages are cooking, cook down the onion and jalapeno pepper in oil a few minutes, then add in the garlic to cook another minute or so. You should start to smell the fragrant garlic. Add the tomatoes, fresh basil and salt and pepper to your liking. Give it all a stir. Bring up the heat to start a boil, but then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 10 minutes or so to thicken up. You can simmer longer if you’d like. If it gets TOO thick, just add a couple tablespoons of water and stir.
While your sauce is simmering along, you’ll make a Bechamel Sauce, which is one of the French mother sauces, but really, it’s just a roux (or paste of flour and butter) mixed with milk. The process is easy. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat and whisk in the flour. It will form a thick paste. Slowly whisk in the milk and continue to whisk it over the heat. It will eventually thicken up into a thick sauce. If it feels too thick for you, whisk in a bit more milk to achieve the consistency you’d like. When it’s done, take it off the heat and stir in the chili powder.
Get your ziti noodles cooking as well, which is easy enough, simply boiling them in salted water. You can cook them to aldente, or stop the process a bit before they are completely cooked, as they will cook a bit more in the baking process.
Stir it all together in a baking dish – the cooked noodles, tomato sauce, Bechamel sauce, cooked sausages – along with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese, then top it all with mozzarella and bake it up until the cheese is nicely melted.
I mean, look at this. Don’t you want to just dig right in?
Top it all off with chopped basil for garnish and chow down! It makes a big batch here, so go crazy, but if you have leftovers, you can easily save it in containers and enjoy it in a couple days. Bonus meal!
It is jam packed with satisfying sausage, and the finished sauce is crazy delicious. The Bechamel brings in a creaminess you don’t get with your typical tomato sauce. I say bring it on!
Special thanks to Johnsonville for carrying such great products. Don’t forget to check out the Sausage Support Center and chat with Bob the Bot. Not only will you get some great recipe ideas and stories, but it’s fun, too!
Just call 844-9-SAUSAGE, or text 97406 to chat with Bob! Or, check out the Sausage Support Center web site at www.sausagesupportcenter.com.
I hope you enjoy the meal!
Easy Baked Ziti with Spicy Italian Sausage - Recipe
- 1 package Johnsonville Hot Italian Sausages 19 ounces, 5 links
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 jalapeno pepper chopped
- 1 medium white onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 28- ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil + more for garnish
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoon flour
- 1-1/2 to 2 cups milk
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 16 ounce package mini ziti
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese + more for serving
- 8 ounces mozzarella cheese cubed or shredded
- Cook the Johnsonville Hot Italian Sausages according to the instructions on the packaging. Cool, then slice them into 1/2 inch slices. Set aside.
- While sausages are cooking, heat oil in a pot over medium heat and add jalapeno and onion. Cook for 5 minutes to soften.
- Add garlic and cook another minute, stirring.
- Add crushed tomatoes, fresh basil and salt and pepper. Bring to a quick boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Get a pot of water boiling for the ziti noodles and add a generous pinch of salt.
- Next, melt butter in a medium sized pan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour to form a roux, or butter/flour paste. Cook, stirring, about 5 minutes to darken slightly. Whisk in milk and continue whisking over medium heat until it thickens up, about 5 minutes. This is a bechamel sauce. Remove from heat and stir in chili powder.
- Add the ziti noodles to the boiling salted water and cook according to the package directions, until al dente. For firmer noodles, stop cooking them a couple minutes before they finish, as they will cook more as we bake them.
- To a large baking dish, add the cooked noodles, tomato sauce, bechamel sauce, sliced sausages and Parmesan cheese. Mix well.
- Top with mozarrella cheese and bake at 350 degrees, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is nicely melted.
- Top with fresh chopped basil and extra Parmesan cheese. Serve!
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