1 lb. 454g ziti
1 lb. 454g mild Italian sausage
4 cloves garlic minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 28 oz. can tomato sauce
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 cup 8g fresh basil, chopped
8 oz. 227g cream cheese, softened
16 oz. 454g cottage cheese
1/2 cup 120g sour cream
1 1/2 cups 135g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated and divided
2 cups 226g mozzarella cheese, chopped into 1/4-inch cubes and divided
Fresh basil chopped, for serving
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C) and generously grease a 9×13-inch (23×33 cm) baking dish with nonstick spray. Set it aside.
In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the ziti for 2 minutes less than the package instructions suggest. Drain the pasta and drizzle it with a little olive oil to prevent sticking. Set it aside.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the Italian sausage until it is no longer pink, approximately 5 minutes. If necessary, drain any excess fat.
Add the minced garlic to the skillet and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Sprinkle in the dried oregano, dried basil, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Stir in the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Lower the heat to medium and let the mixture come to a bubble. Reduce the heat to medium-low and allow it to simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the granulated sugar and fresh basil. Set the sauce aside.
In a large bowl, beat the softened cream cheese until it becomes smooth. Add the eggs, cottage cheese, and sour cream, and mix until well combined. Stir in 1 cup (90g) of grated Parmesan cheese and 1 cup (113g) of the chopped mozzarella.
Add 1 cup (237ml) of the red sauce and the drained pasta to the cottage cheese mixture. Stir until well combined. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish.
Top the pasta mixture with the remaining red sauce, followed by the remaining 1 cup (113g) of chopped mozzarella and 1/2 cup (45g) of grated Parmesan cheese.
Cover the casserole with a sheet of aluminum foil that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake it for 25 minutes. Then, remove the foil and bake for an additional 25 minutes. If desired, broil for 1 to 2 minutes to achieve a golden, bubbly cheese topping.
Allow the baked ziti to sit for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle it with freshly chopped basil for a vibrant finish. It’s time to gather your loved ones around the table and dive into a plate of pure comfort and satisfaction!
Feel free to experiment with different types of cheeses or a combination of cheeses to suit your preferences.
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and reheated in the oven or microwave.