Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sausage & Pepper Baked Ziti

1 lb sweet/hot Italian Sausage, casings removed if using links
4 cloves garlic, crushed with press
2 lg peppers; red, green and/or yellow, cut into 1/4" slices
1 jumbo onion (1 lb), cut in half, then cut crosswise into 1/4" slices
1 lb sliced white mushrooms
1 can (28 oz) whole tomatoes in puree
1 can (15 oz) tomato puree
1 lb ziti or penne pasta
1 pkg (8 oz) mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 c. freshly grated Romano cheese

1. In deep skillet, cook sausage on med. heat 10 minutes or until browned. Transfer to medium bowl.
2. In drippings in skillet, cook garlic, peppers, onion and mushrooms, covered 10 minutes. Uncover and cook additional 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender and most of liquid has evaporated. Stir in tomatoes and tomato puree. Heat to boiling on med-high, stirring and breaking up tomatoes with side of spoon. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and cook sauce 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Meanwhile cook pasta according to directions on package, but cook 2 minutes less than recommended.
4. Preheat oven to 400. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water. Drain pasta. Return pasta and water to pot; stir in tomato sauce and meat. Add mozzarella, toss to combine. Divide mixture evenly between two shallow 2 1/2 qt. baking dishes. (I use one 1 1/2 qt and a aluminum 11x9" pan for the freezer serving.) Sprinkle with Romano.
5. Bake on casserole 20-25 minutes or until top is browned and sauce is bubbling. Let stand 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare second casserole for freezing.

**This is a favorite recipe; great to share a serving with someone else, freeze one for later, or bake all for a large crowd.

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