It’s been a pretty crazy past few days around here. Baby #3 (we’ve decided to call him Nathan from here on out!) ended up being a week overdue before he finally arrived late Thursday afternoon. He is a big boy, born at 9 lbs 11 ounces and a whopping 21 inches!
We didn’t home until Saturday night, and are using this week to really get into our new routines and the general “swing of things” with a new baby around. The boys are adjusting just fine, very interested and inquisitive about every detail of Nathan’s life. I feel so lucky to have all these boys to take care of!
Back to this pasta – a cheesy “baked” pasta that’s ready in just a few minutes and only uses one pan – is pretty much a gift sent from the Gods for the crazy nights we have coming up in our future. It was so darned good too, I found myself picking off pieces of pasta for “one more bite” before we packed the leftovers away!
The pasta sauce is easy to bring together, using pantry staples. It gets a heavy dose of flavor from the addition of pork sausage, and richness from the addition of a bit of heavy cream. And I’d imagine that any pasta shape would be fine – although I happen to be partial to the tubular pastas like ziti and penne for these kinds of applications. The pasta is cooked in the sauce on the stove, then when it’s al-dente it’s topped with a good amount of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese that gets melted and browned with a quick trip to the hot oven.
Served with a quick salad and a crunchy piece of garlic bread, it’s too good to be such a delicious and easy weeknight meal. Make this one soon, guys!
Skillet Baked Ziti
1 lb bulk hot sausage (like Jimmy Dean)
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (28-oz) can crushed tomatoes
3 cups water
12 oz ziti
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
4 oz (about 1 cup) freshly grated mozzarella cheese
Heat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a 12-inch oven-safe skillet set over medium-high heat, brown the sausage until no longer pink, about 4 minutes, breaking up any large pieces with a wooden spoon. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently for 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the water and ziti and stir to combine. Cover, increase the heat to medium, and cook at a vigorous simmer, stirring often, 15 to 18 minutes, until the pasta is just tender.
Remove from heat and stir in the cream, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, and 3 Tbsp of the basil. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Sprinkle the mozzarella and remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan over the top, and transfer to the oven.
Bake until the cheese has melted and browned, and the sauce is bubbling, 10 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of basil and serve.