I’m back today with another favorite recipe of ours. My hubby doesn’t request a lot of meals, but this is one he is always excited about.
Now don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients, they are worth it. I would say that even though there are a lot of ingredients this recipe comes together quickly, but that would be pulling your leg. Side note: does anyone even say that anymore?? Because this recipe is heavy on the prep I typically prep this recipe a day or two before and then bake until warm and bubbly the day I want to serve it.
The recipe calls for half ground beef and half sausage, but you can use whatever ratio of meat you like. Since the sausage adds such great flavor to the sauce, don’t sub it all with ground beef. You could also use ground turkey or chicken sausage to make it a little lighter.
Let’s talk about the pan or pans you are going to bake this recipe in. A 9×13 pan is not going to be big enough, you need a large casserole dish. Most of the time when I make this I separate it into 3 smaller pans and freeze 2 to enjoy later.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic - minced
- 1 small onion - diced
- 1 pound Italian sausage
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon salt - more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper - more to taste
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 16 Ounces Ziti - cooked until not quite al dente
- 1 (15 ounce) tub Ricotta cheese
- 1 1/2 pounds mozzarella cheese - grated
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese - grated or shredded
- 1 large egg
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook Italian sausage and ground beef until browned.
- While the meat mixture is cooking, heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute until they start to soften and become fragrant.
- Add the tomatoes, oregano, basil, thyme, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and sugar. Add the meat mixture. Bring to a simmer and stir occasionally. Simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. After that time, remove 3 to 4 cups of the sauce into a separate bowl to cool slightly.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, 2 cups of the grated mozzarella, parmesan, and egg. Mix until just combined.
- In a large pot, cook the Ziti according to package directions until not quite al dente. Drain the pasta and rinse under cool water to stop the cooking. Pour it into the bowl with the cheese mixture and toss to slightly combine. Add the cooled meat sauce to the cheese and pasta and toss to combine.
- Add half the coated pasta to a large casserole dish or lasagna dish. Spoon half of the remaining sauce over the top, then top with half the remaining mozzarella cheese. Repeat with another layer of the coated pasta, the sauce, and the mozzarella.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbling. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Make Ahead Directions:
- Allow the ziti to cool down and then refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Preheat the oven to 375 and bake the Ziti covered with foil for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until heated through. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and lightly browned.