Adapted from Food Network
There are many steps in this recipe. Don't be afraid. I've provided step by step instructions so it isn't overwhelming. I think you'll find it's worth it.
Use one teaspoon of olive oil to grease a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Set aside.
Fill a large pot (8-10 quarts) with water and bring to a boil.
Turn oven to 400.
In a dutch oven or large deep sauté pan heat until hot:
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Add and brown:
- 1 pound sweet and/or spice Italian sausages (pork or turkey, I used turkey, half spicy half sweet), casings removed and crumbled into the pan (you can buy sausage out of the casings at butcher counter, if you don't see it ask)
After meat is well browned (about 3-5 minutes) add and stir until lightly browned:
- 1/4 cup diced onion
- 3 cloves chopped garlic
- 28 oz. whole peeled tomatoes, crushed using a potato masher or your hands OR 28 oz. crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon each: dried thyme and oregano OR 1 sprig each fresh thyme, oregano, basil
Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
By now your water is probably boiling. Add to the water:
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 pound ziti
Stir pasta well. Cook 5 minutes, very al dente to avoid mushiness later, drain in a colander and go back to your sauce.
Remove herb sprigs (if using) and stir in:
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 4 turns fresh ground pepper
Turn off heat. Pour the cooked pasta into the sauce and stir. Add:
- 1/2 pound cubed, fresh mozzarella (if using ciliegine use them whole)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (the good stuff, trust me)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- pinch red pepper flakes (optional, I left out)
Combine well. Pour the concoction into the baking pan. Then top with:
- 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced (if using ciliegine keep them whole)
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan (again, the good stuff)
Bake about 30 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Serve immediately.