Easy Baked Ziti made with pasta, mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, basil, and sausage in a creamy sauce. If you're looking for a meal to take to someone who had a baby or to a meal to make for company, this Italian Baked Ziti is delicious! It can be made with sausage or without meat.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. The next two steps can be done at the same time (cooking the sausage in one pan and the pasta in another).
In a skillet, brown sausage. Drain and cool.
Bring a large pot of water to boiling. Add about 1 tablespoon of salt and the pasta. Cook pasta about 5 minutes (it will continue to cook in the oven). Drain in a colander.
While pasta and sausage are cooking, in a large bowl, add 1 cup of the marinara sauce, the cottage cheese, 3/4 cup of the mozzarella cheese, 1 cup Parmesan cheese (save 1/4 cup for the top), eggs, and basil. Add the sausage when it is done cooking.
In the same pot as the pasta or sausage (whichever pan is done being used first), add the heavy cream, cornstarch, garlic powder, and Italian seasonings and whisk together. Cook over medium heat until thickened about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir into cottage cheese mixture.
Add the pasta to the cottage cheese mixture and mix well. Pour into a 9x13 baking dish. Spread remaining marinara sauce on top. Top with remaining 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.
Cover tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Garnish with more basil and serve.
If you like garlic, you can add a couple of cloves at the end of cooking the sausage. My marinara has a lot of garlic in it so I don't always add more.
Freeze for up to a month in a tightly sealed dish. Thaw in the refrigerator a day before cooking. Bake according to instructions.
Source: adapted from Cooks Illustrated
Substituted marinara sauce for tomatoes and ingredients for sauce, added sausage, increased cornstarch, used shredded mozzarella instead of cubed, reduced Parmesan. Added garlic powder and Italian seasonings.