Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage and 5 types of cheese is pure comfort food. The ziti, sausage slices and cheese are layered so that there’s some of each in every bite. It’s topped off with a thick layer of gooey, melted cheese.
This recipe makes a large amount so it’s great to make for a potluck. Leftovers reheat well and if you want to, make it in 2 8-inch baking dishes and freeze one for later. Thaw it in the refrigerator for 24 hours before baking it.
Five types of cheese- cottage cheese, Mascarpone cheese, mozzarella, provolone, and Parmesan cheese- give this Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage so much cheese flavor. This is definitely a pasta dish for cheese lovers!
The mascarpone cheese gives it a wonderful richness, but if you can’t find it, use an extra cup of cottage cheese or ricotta cheese. I’m a huge fan of using cottage cheese in pasta dishes instead of ricotta. I think it’s much creamier, but if you prefer ricotta cheese, use it instead.
The homemade sauce is easy to make with a can of crushed tomatoes and 2 cans of stewed tomatoes. I love the slightly sweet flavor that stewed tomatoes have. If you prefer diced tomatoes, use them. I do like to chop the stewed tomatoes up some, but you can leave them as is.
You can use either sweet or hot Italian sausage or you can use ground beef instead of sausage.
Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage RECIPE TIP:
Only cook the ziti to al dente. You want it to still be a little chewy. It will cook more in the oven.
More Italian Family Favorites:
- Italian Sausage Rigatoni with Spicy Cream Sauce
- Slow Cooker Lasagna
- Skillet Lasagna
- Crock Pot Baked Ziti
- Italian Sausage Manicotti
- 1 pound Italian sausage links
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium yellow or sweet onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 2 (14-ounce) cans stewed tomatoes
- salt and pepper
- 1 pound ziti
- 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
- 1 cup cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
- 8 ounces sliced Provolone, cut into strips
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- Cook Italian sausage in a lightly greased pan until browned on all sides. Remove to a cutting board and let cool. (Sausage does not need to be cooked through at this point. It will finish cooking in the sauce.)When sausage has cooled some, cut it into slices.
- Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a Dutch oven. Add onion and cook 5 to 7 minutes to soften. Add garlic and cook 1 more minute.
- Add Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes, crushed tomatoes, and stewed tomatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.Bring to a simmer and add Italian sausage slices. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Cook ziti in salted water according to package directions. Drain.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Ladle about 1/4 of the sauce into the bottom of a greased 9x13-inch pan.
- Evenly arrange 1/2 the ziti in the pan. Dollop half the mascarpone cheese and cottage cheese over the ziti. Add half the provolone cheese strips and half the mozzarella.
- Top cheese with half the remaining sauce followed by the remaining ziti.
- Dollop on the remaining mascarpone cheese and cottage cheese. Layer with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with the rest of the mozzarella cheese, the provolone and the Parmesan. Cover with a piece of aluminum foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray so that the cheese doesn't stick.
- Bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and broil for a few minutes to brown the cheese.
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