Friday, May 11, 2012

Cheesy Pasta Bake

I've had a stack of Cooking Light magazines sitting on my ottoman for a long, long time. I've been caught up on reading them, I have no problem with that. The issue is that I read the magazine, dog-ear the recipes I want to try, and then sit the magazine aside to file and organize the recipes. I finally got around to organizing the magazines last week and I realized I was very, very far behind. My stack of magazines went back to September 2011. Wow, that's procrastination.

The stack is gone now. I decided that I would find the recipes from the magazine online, add them to my online recipe file, and then recycle the magazine. This worked out extremely well, I added almost 100 new recipes to my online file. This recipe was from the March 2012 issue and I'm glad I found it!

A couple of years ago, I had tried a recipe for Baked Ziti and I hated it. It was beyond bland. I love a good pasta dish, so I've been on the lookout for another Baked Ziti-ish type recipe. This fit the bill.

I must have been in the zone yesterday when I was making dinner, because I didn't take a lot of pictures.

I was paying attention when I started, but somewhere in between, the plan to take pictures went awry. The fresh stuff, ready to go. Minced garlic, diced onion, and torn basil leaves.

The first step was sautéing the onions with a pinch of crushed red pepper. From there, I moved on to adding a little bit of ground hamburger, ground hot sausage, and the garlic. After the meats were browned, I added marinara to the mix. I cheated and used pre-made marinara last night. Once it was heated, I tossed the pasta in the mixture, coated a casserole dish in cooking spray, and transferred the pasta mixture to the casserole dish. Top the pasta with a layer of mozzarella and a layer of fresh parmesan.

I did remember to snap a pic of the dish going into the oven :)

Bake until the cheese on top is browned and bubbly. Once you take the dish out of the oven, sprinkle the top with the torn basil.

Delicious! I think the hot sausage makes all the difference in this dish. I know the Baked Ziti I made before only had hamburger in it. This was really good for a quick, weeknight meal, but I think it would taste even better with homemade marinara. Next time people, next time :)

8-oz ziti, cooked to package directions
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
4-oz ground hamburger
4-oz ground hot sausage
3 cups marinara sauce
6-oz shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
Torn basil leaves (garnish)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Add olive oil to a large pan over medium high heat. Add onion and crushed red pepper to the pan when hot. Saute onions for 5-7 minutes, or until tender. Add hamburger, sausage, and garlic to pan, stirring to crumble. Once meat is browned, add marinara sauce to the pan and heat 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Coat a casserole pan with cooking spray. Transfer the pasta mixture to the casserole pan. Top dish with the mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Bake in preheated oven 20-25 minutes, or until cheese on top is browned and bubbly.
4. Remove from oven. Sprinkle torn basil leaves over the dish. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Adapted from Cooking Light

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