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Baked Ziti

Baked Ziti

This baked ziti is cheesy and saucy and perfect comfort food for cold weather.

This baked ziti is cheesy and saucy and perfect comfort food for cold weather.

Ingredients: 

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 pounds ground beef
1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
1 large onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
½ teaspoon dried basil
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 28-ounce can whole, peeled tomatoes
¼ cup fresh basil, leaves torn
1 pound ziti
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cubed
8 ounces grated mozzarella
¾ cup grated Parmesan

Recipe directions: 

Heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the ground beef and sausage, breaking up with a wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper, and sauté until the meat is no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, red pepper, dried basil, bay leaves, salt and pepper, and sauté until the vegetables are soft, another 10 minutes or so. Add the tomato paste, and stir to combine. Add the tomatoes with their juice, breaking them up with your hands as you add them. Season with a little more salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 2 hours (or more), partially covered, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9” x 13” baking dish with nonstick spray. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water, until it is al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain the pasta, dry it off a little with a paper towel, and mix it into the sauce. Stir in the fresh mozzarella. Season with salt and pepper – taste it here to be sure it is seasoned to your taste. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan, and sprinkle the grated mozzarella and parmesan over the top. Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling around the edges, about 20 minutes. Turn on the broiler, and broil for 3 to 4 minutes, until the top of the cheese begins to brown. Remove from the oven, and let the baked ziti sit for about 10 minutes before serving. 

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