Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Baked Ziti with Sausage and Apples

Copyright 2006 by Cooking With The Single Guy


1 lb. ziti pasta
13 oz. chicken-apple sausages, cut into slices
14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes
15 oz. can of tomato sauce
2 apples
1 T olive oil
1 t thyme
1/2 cup red wine
1-1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
15 oz. Ricotta cheese
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
2 t ground cinnamon
Juice from 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Boil a pot of salted water and cook the pasta. Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet or sauce pan, warm olive oil and brown sausages with garlic. After browning both sides, add wine and cook for about a minute. Add diced tomatoes, sauce and thyme and simmer covered for about three minutes. Set aside to cool.

Core and cut apples into rough cubes and lightly mix with lemon juice and cinnamon in small bowl. Add apples to sauce.

In a 9”X13” baking dish, add a third of the sauce to bottom with half of the pasta. Crumble ricotta cheese over dish. Add remaining pasta and almost all of sauce, leaving some to top the dish. Top with parmesan cheese and drizzle remaining sauce over cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and cook for 30 minutes. Remove foil and cook for another 15 minutes. (To help with browning, crumble 2 T of butter on top.)

Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Plate and serve.

Makes 6 servings. Serve with Caesar salad.

Pair with a fruity Pinot Noir.

TIPS: You can use almost any of your favorite red apples for this dish. (I think the red matches nicely with the tomatoes, so I wouldn't suggest using green Granny Smith apples.) I used gala apples because they're sweet and crispy. I wouldn't recommend Red Delicious apples because they're not always crispy and the skin is like plastic, which won't taste nice in your baked ziti.

WHERE’S THE CHEESE?: Cheesy dishes like baked ziti is real comfort food, and comfort food is generally high in fat. For this recipe, I just used two types of cheese to reduce the amount of cheese. I also use a low-fat ricotta cheese to help keep my cholesterol from going off the charts. But if your cholesterol is fine and you’re hankering for more cheese, you could add a cup of mozzarella to the dish. Add it the same time you add the ricotta.

PORTION CONTROL: A large dish of baked pasta is tempting to eat all week. But don’t stuff yourself with pasta and cheese. You could probably eat your baked ziti for two nights, but freeze half of your pasta to eat later in the month. That’s another few nights of cooking you don’t have to worry about. :)

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