There’s an ice storm coming. Remember that episode of “Little House on the Prairie” where Pa ties a rope from the house to the barn so he can tend the livestock during a blinding blizzard?
This isn’t going to be anything like that.
A Middle Tennessee ice storm usually means some broken tree limbs, maybe a short a power outage and an insane rush to the grocery for “essentials.” People will wait in the grocery line for 15 minutes to buy a frozen pot pie, eight rolls of toilet paper, a bag of Oreos and some Jiffy Pop.
My favorite meal for a night like this is Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage. Gooey cheese. Spicy browned sausage. Really, I could stop right there, but I love to experiment with different mix-ins (i.e. peppers, onions, mushrooms), cheeses, herbs and pasta sauces, especially ones that include red wine.
Oh, how I crave this stuff. There should be a 12-step program.
P.S. I’m going to kick myself for saying this, but the sausage isn’t essential. If you’re a vegetarian or just trying to eat healthier, feel free to leave it out. There, I said it. Now, I’ve got to go scrub off the shame.
Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage
Adapted from “Cook’s Country” (April/May 2005)
- 1 pound ziti, dried
- Kosher salt
- 1 jar spaghetti sauce (your favorite)
- 1 pound Italian sausage (sweet, mild, or hot), sliced
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- 2 cups (8 ounces) grated mozzarella
- 1/4 cup Parmesan
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray, and set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add Kosher salt, and boil pasta for 1 minute less than package directions. Drain, and transfer to a large bowl.
- Pour your spaghetti sauce over the pasta, and toss. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, brown the Italian sausage over medium heat. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan, and add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook for about 30 seconds.
- Add the sausage to the pasta mixture.
- Pour half of the pasta mixture into your prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with half of each cheese. Pour remaining pasta into the dish, and top with remaining cheese.
- Bake until cheese is golden brown and bubbly, about 20 minutes.