Yesterday I managed to survive a cookie disaster. And it was disastrous for more than one reason. It all started when I purchased a bag of those cute fall-colored peanut butter M&M’s..I thought it would be fun to mix them into a batch of cookies instead of chocolate chips. My first failure was trying a new chocolate chip cookie recipe..it was awful. The cookies were completely flat and looked like cookie blobs. Disappointing, but nothing too tragic. Then, when I was taking the final cookie sheet out of the oven I burnt my arm and sent the tray of cookies crashing to the ground. Ugh. So upsetting. Total cookie fail.
At least the cookies that survived tasted pretty good (despite their flattened shape) and I had made this fabulous baked ziti for dinner :)
So I think it’s finally time for me to share with you the BEST pasta dish ever. I strongly encourage you to stop what you are doing right now and go make it. Seriously. It’s that good. It’s been showing up on our menu at least once a month (by Lance’s request, of course) and we ALWAYS eat all the leftovers :)
I should caution you that it is a bit time consuming, so I would make sure you have enough time to prepare it. It might be more suitable for a weekend meal. It would even be great for entertaining and can be easily paired with a salad.
1 lb. whole milk or 1% cottage cheese
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 oz. grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 cups), divided
1 lb. ziti
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
20 oz. turkey Italian sausage
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
5 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 (28 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes (Italian style with basil/garlic is great if you can find it!)
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil leaves, divided
1 tsp. sugar
Ground black pepper
3/4 tsp. cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream (or whole milk)
8 oz. low-moisture mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350° F. Whisk cottage cheese, eggs, and 1 cup Parmesan together in a medium bowl; set aside. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta; cook until pasta begins to soften but is not yet cooked through, 5-7 minutes. Drain the pasta and leave in colander.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Crumble in the turkey sausage and cook until nearly browned. Add in the onion and garlic and continue to cook until the onion is softened and the sausage is completely browned. Stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and oregano; simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Off the heat, stir in 1/2 cup basil and the sugar, and season with salt and pepper.
In a small bowl stir together the cornstarch and heavy cream. Transfer the mixture to the now-empty stockpot over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, 3-4 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and add the cottage cheese mixture, 1 1/2 cups of the tomato sauce and 3/4 cup mozzarella. Stir to combine. Add the pasta and toss to coat thoroughly with the sauce.
Transfer the pasta to a 9×13″ baking dish and spread the remaining tomato sauce evenly over the top. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan over the top. Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove the foil from the pan and continue to cook until the cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes longer. Cool for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons basil and serve.
Source: Adapted from Annies Eats