Time for a little Italian comfort food: Easy Baked Ziti Recipe. In this recipe, the Italian sausage and a little fresh basil provide all the flavor you need for this simple one-pan dinner!

Baked Ziti served in a platter with Italian Sausage and Fresh Mozzarella

Just like anything in my life, I am slowly learning that there is a rhythm for eating. A balance between feasting and fasting, if you will. A variety and moderation--so true of the Mediterranean diet--that provide a certain quality and richness as we  feed ourselves and others.

So, I follow my vegan spicy lentil soup with today's comforting baked ziti recipe. Still, with a little  less cheese for a slightly lighter version.

Not a new food to many of us, baked ziti is a classic Italian comfort food that, currently in my household, is only rivaled by this eggplant parmigiana.

Italian baked ziti garnished with basil, mozzarella and sausage

This easy baked ziti relies mostly on sweet Italian sausage with fennel and fresh basil for flavor. If it weren't for my kids, I would have choosen a spicy Italian sausage for that extra kick. You can also replace the sausage with ground beef and your favorite Italian spices, making your baked ziti a less fussy version of classic lasagna.

I serve this baked ziti next to crusty Italian bread and a simple Mediterranean salad.

Here is the step-by-step for today's baked ziti with Italian sausage:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Cook the ziti past in boiling water according with a little olive oil and a pinch of salt. Remove from the heat about 3 minutes before the time indicated on the pasta package. Drain well.

Cooked ziti in a strainer
Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Saute the onions until translucent and slightly golden in color, then add the garlic and sausage. Cook on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is fully browned.

Browned Italian sausage in a skillet

Now add the canned tomatoes and half the basil leaves. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens.

Italian Sausage with canned tomatoes in a skillet
Combine the pasta and ½ of the grated Parmesan cheese with only ½ of the sauce (you will use the rest of the sauce shortly).

Ziti added to skillet of sausage and tomato sauce

If your skillet is not oven-safe, transfer the pasta to a baking dish and top with the remaining sauce and the mozzarella cheese slices.
Bake the ziti pasta in the 350 degrees F heated-oven for 20-25 minutes. When ready, remove from the oven and add the rest of the Parmesan cheese and basil leaves. Enjoy!

Fresh mozzarella added to the top of ziti, sausage and tomato sauce

Baked ziti garnished with fresh basil

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Easy Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage and Fresh Mozzarella | The Mediterranean Dish. This baked ziti relies is a quick and easy one-pan dinner that your family will love! A thick Italian sausage and tomato sauce coats the ziti pasta; add some fresh basil or your favorite Italian herb. I chose fresh mozzarella here, but you can use grated bagged mozzarella instead. Get the recipe today!

Easy Baked Ziti Recipe with Italian Sausage and Fresh Mozzarella


Description

Time for a little Italian comfort food: Easy Baked Ziti Recipe. In this recipe, the Italian sausage and a little fresh basil provide all the flavor you need for this simple one-pan dinner!


Ingredients

Scale
  • Boiling water
  • 1 lb Ziti pasta
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 ½ lb bulk Italian sausage with fennel (no casings)
  • 2 14 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 20 or more basil leaves, torn and divided
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cook the ziti past in boiling water according with a little olive oil and a pinch of salt. Remove from the heat about 3 minutes before the time indicated on the pasta package. Drain well.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Saute the onions until translucent and slightly golden in color, then add the garlic and sausage. Cook on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is fully browned. Now add the canned tomatoes and half the basil leaves. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens.
  4. Combine the pasta and ½ of the grated Parmesan cheese with only ½ the sauce (you will use the rest of the sauce shortly). If your skillet is not oven-safe, transfer the pasta to a baking dish and top with the remaining sauce and the mozzarella cheese slices.
  5. Bake the ziti pasta in the 350 degrees F heated-oven for 20-25 minutes. When ready, remove from the oven and add the rest of the Parmesan cheese and basil leaves. Enjoy!

Notes

  • You can certainly replace the sausage with ground beef. Make sure you add your favorite Italian spices for flavor.
  • If fresh mozzarella is not available to you, grated bagged mozzarella will certainly work. You can top the ziti with one cup of grated mozzarella (more or less to your liking).
  • Recommended for this Recipe: Our Private Reserve Greek extra virgin olive oil (from organically grown and processed Koroneiki olives!)
  • Visit our store to browse our spices, olive oils and bundles!
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 40 mins
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: Baked Ziti, Italian Sausage, Ziti with Sausage, Fresh Mozzarella

You may also like these one-pan comfort foods:

Macaroni and Cheese with Italian Sausage and Bell Peppers

Eggplant Parmigiana 

Moussaka: Greek Eggplant Casserole 

 

Today's recipe is part of Food Network's comfort food feast series! Here more delicious recipes from participating bloggers:

The Lemon Bowl: Whole Wheat Pasta with Sausage, Peas and Ricotta
Healthy Eats: 10 Pasta Dishes You Need in Your Life This Winter
Taste with the Eyes: Red Lentil Spaghetti (gluten-free) with Cauliflower Rosa Sauce (vegan)
The Mom 100: Greek Chicken Pasta Salad
Big Girls Small Kitchen: The Best Broccoli Linguine
Creative Culinary: Roasted Vegetable Pasta with Goat Cheese
FN Dish: Baked Pastas > Every Other Pasta

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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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Comments

  1. Delicious! Whole family loved it including my daughter who doesn’t like lasagna or spaghetti. Will be making this a lot. Thanks for the great recipe!

  2. Oh my gosh, this was heavenly! I'll never make spaghetti or lasagna again. This was easy and delicious. One of my new favorites, this will become a regular meal in our house. Thanks for such a fantastic recipe!

    1. Elena, I am so happy to hear you like this baked ziti. It's truly a simple and satisfying dinner. Thanks for stopping in to share.

  3. I love that you didn't skimp on the basil, this sounds so aromatic and delicious. Especially with the fresh mozzarella on top. Great recipe!