Friday, April 25, 2014

Dinner Ideas - Pesto Baked Ziti

My mother-in-law is still recovering from her hand surgery so I wanted to make something for dinner that was easy to eat (no knives required) and also something that would provide them with leftovers. I remember seeing a recipe for Pesto Baked Ziti and decided that I would try it out.

This was SUPER simple to make! Boiling water and making sure the sausage was cooked through was the hardest task!

The only tweaks I would make would be ...

  • Use penne instead of ziti. I think the cheese and sauce would cling to the penne better. 
  • In the directions they tell you to layer the pasta, meat, and cheese. I think stirring it in together would make me it slightly easier to serve and make sure you get even distribution of ingredients!

This recipe is from The Neelys and you can find it on my Pinterest Page.

SHOW: Down Home with the Neelys
EPISODE: That’s Amore


  • Salt
  • 1lb ziti - (I personally am a huge fan of DeCecco pasta!)
  • 1lb hot Italian turkey sausage, casing removed - I used regular Italian sausage
  • 1 medium onion, chopped - to make things simpler I bought chopped onions at the grocery store (they were on sale!!)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes - debating on if next time I would add a 1.5 cans
  • 6 ounces of pesto (I really should have made this homemade but I was being lazy!)
  • 1 (9-ounce) package of washed spinach
  • Butter, for baking dish
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella, plus more for topping
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan, plus more for topping
  • Preheat Oven to 375 degrees
  • Make pasta (remember to salt your water!!) and drain in colander
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté sausage. Add onion and garlic and sauté until sausage is cooked through. Make sure to break up the sausage so it resembles ground beef. Add the can of tomatoes and pesto. Let it simmer for 10 minutes. 

  • While the sauce is simmering, in a separate bowl mix the spinach, ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan in a separate bowl. 

  • Butter a 4-quart baking dish, add the pasta, then sausage mixture and cheese mixture. Top with a sprinkle of mozzarella and Parmesan. 

  • Bake completely through and golden and crisp on top, about 20 minutes. 

Would love to hear if you liked this recipe and any ideas on how to make it better!

Happy Pinning!
By Jennifer Shelton