Baked Ziti with Hot Italian Sausage

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As noted in the post, the first time I made this, I made many substitutions: I only had a little bit of crème fraîche, so I made up the difference with heavy cream. I had a mix of Swiss chard and kale on hand, so I used those in place of the baby spinach. I even used vegan chorizo in place of hot Italian sausage. This is definitely a recipe that lends itself to improvising. I think you could definitely leave out the sausage if you wanted to make it vegetarian.

Alexandra's Kitchen

Serves 4

16 Ingredients

1 cup Ricotta Cheese

1 cup Heavy Cream

1 Egg

1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano

to taste Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

2 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Onion

2 clove Garlic

1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

1 Tbsp Fresh Oregano

1 lb Sweet Italian Sausage

28 oz San Marzano Tomatoes

1 box Ziti Pasta

5 oz Chard

0.75 lb Mozzarella Cheese

2 Tbsp Salt

9 Steps

Steps 1

In a large bowl, combine the Ricotta Cheese, Heavy Cream, Egg, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Season with Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper and set aside.

Steps 2

Heat the Olive Oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add theOnion and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the Garlic.

Steps 3

Add the Sweet Italian Sausage and cook until browned, breaking up the meat with the back of a wooden spoon. Add the San Marzano Tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Season to taste with Fresh Oregano, Crushed Red Pepper Flakes and cook until the sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes.

Steps 4

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Steps 5

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add Salt and return to a rolling boil. Add the Ziti Pasta and cook for 4 minutes short of al dente according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water.

Steps 6

Add the Chard to the sauce with 1/2 cup pasta water, stirring until it wilts. Remove from the heat. Stir half of the sauce into the ricotta mixture. Add the pasta and toss together to coat.

Steps 7

Pour the pasta into a 9x13-inch baking dish. Top with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle the Mozzarella Cheese and remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top and bake until the cheese starts bubbling, about 20 minutes.

Steps 8

Set the oven to broil and broil until the ricotta cheese and pasta are browned in spots, about 5 minutes more.

Steps 9

Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!