Baked Ziti with Roasted Tomato Sauce

This version of the Baked Ziti recipe uses the roasted tomato sauce which I make quite often using fresh tomatoes from the garden.


1 batch roasted tomato sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb Italian sausage

6 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 tablespoons)
teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 cups water
12 oz (about 3 cups) ziti
cup heavy cream
1 oz parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Ground black pepper
8 ozs mozzarella cheese, shredded (2 cups)

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 475 degrees. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add about half the garlic to the saucepan and sautee gently for a couple minutes (low heat, try not to let it brown). Add the roasted tomato sauce and simmer for a couple minutes.

2. Lightly brown Italian sausage in oven-proof medium-size pot (about 4 qt size) over medium-high heat until no longer pink, breaking apart the meat, 3 to 4 minutes.  Stir in the remaining garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

3. Stir in the tomato sauce, ½ teaspoon salt, and water. Stir in the pasta. Cover, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring often and adjusting the heat to maintain a simmer. Simmer for the amount of time specified on the pasta package to cook pasta, typically 9 - 11 minutes, or until nearly tender (it's okay if pasta is slightly underdone).

4. Stir in the cream, Parmesan cheese, and basil, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the mozzarella evenly over the top. Transfer the pot to the oven and bake until the cheese has melted and browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve.