It is really difficult to take a photo of a casserole dish that looks good. And it is really, really difficult to take one when the only chance you had to grab a shot was when there was just a wee portion of it left. That being said, I have this fantastic recipe to share for you of this pasta dish my husband made earlier in the week. Paul is a hero. I’ve been working overtime for the past week and he has cooked every single night! And I’m not talking mac and cheese out of the box or take-out pizza either. Homemade food. Comfort food. Lovely fresh salads with tomatoes and chives from our garden. And this casserole. I just LOVED this meal and ate the leftovers until it was gone, gone, gone.
p.s. After last night’s dinner of grilled New York steak, baked potato, and garden salad, I squeezed the recipe out of him. I would only make minor changes to this if I made it. And I DO plan on cooking this myself when I crawl out of the weeds.
Baked Ziti and Sausage in a Creamy Cheesy White Sauce
2 1/2 cups uncooked Ziti pasta
1/2 pound ground hot Italian sausage
1/4 cup butter
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon Mrs. Dash regular blend
Ground black pepper to taste
2 cups milk (he used 1%)
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 cups cottage cheese (he used 4%)
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (he used low fat)
Hungarian paprika, to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain, and set aside. In a skillet, brown the sausage until cooked through thoroughly, drain, and set aside. In a saucepan, melt the butter and add the garlic. (For future versions, he thought adding some chopped onions and mushrooms at this point would be excellent.) Stir in the flour, Mrs. Dash, and pepper. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly, until smooth. Bring up to a slow boil, and continue whisking until thickened. Take the pan off the heat, then stir in 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. In a large bowl, add the cooked pasta and pour the cheese sauce over it and stir to coat. Set aside.
In a small bowl, add the egg, cottage cheese, parsley, the other 1/4 cup of Parmesan, and more Mrs. Dash and black pepper, to taste. Layer about half the pasta/cheese mixture in the bottom of a 2-quart casserole dish sprayed lightly with oil. Pour the cottage cheese mixture over it evenly. Now mix the sausage in with the rest of the pasta then layer that evenly over the casserole. Top with the Mozarella cheese, and shake the paprika evenly over the top, to taste. My husband used a lot of it, which I liked! Now bake the casserole for 35 minutes or so, until hot and bubbly. Creamy, comforting food for the weary. ‘Nuff said.
Additional notes: I would use 1 cup milk and 1 cup homemade chicken broth instead of all milk for the sauce for a richer flavor. I also liked his idea of adding onions and mushrooms. Last, I’d probably mix everything up in one bowl instead of doing the layering thing to save both a bowl and time.