As you may have noticed, I've started my new job and have been pretty absent from the blogging world lately. I've been working pretty long days (even going into the office on Saturday), so I haven't had much time to cook. And when I have made it into the kitchen, it's been pretty uninspired and not very blog worthy. Take this morning for example... I really wanted some breakfast potatoes to go with my egg sandwich, but decided to just eat french fries for breakfast because that was a lot easier to do! Joe has been great at picking up the slack, so we've eaten well thanks to him. But tonight I was determined to get back into the kitchen for at least once decent dinner.
I checked out a couple of my cookbooks for inspiration, and saw a baked ziti dish that got me craving pasta. I decided to up the ante on my pasta, though, and make a baked ziti with sausage, artichoke hearts, and spinach. Once I had the idea of baked pasta in mind, I threw out any recipe ideas and just went with my own plan. Here's the cheesy, yet otherwise healthy, baked ziti I came up with.
Baked Ziti by Erin
1 box frozen chopped spinach
1 box frozen quartered artichoke hearts
1 box ziti or other short pasta
4 cups marinara sauce
One onion, diced
4 to 5 turkey Italian sausages
2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Defrost the artichoke hearts and spinach. Drain the artichoke hearts, and squeeze all the excess water out of the spinach. Set aside until ready to assemble.
Fill a stockpot with water and add salt. Place on the stove to start to boil, and prep the sausage while waiting for the water to boil. Take the sausages out of their casings, and brown the sausage over medium high heat, breaking into bite sized pieces. Place the cooked sausages in a bowl, and drain off any fat.
When the water comes to a rolling boil, add the pasta. Set the timer for two minutes less than instructed on the package, so the pasta will be slightly undercooked. Meanwhile, in the same pan the sausage was cooked in, add the diced onion. Saute for about 5 minutes, until the onions are soft. Add the marinara sauce and spinach to the onions. Heat through, and adjust seasoning as needed.
When the pasta is cooked, drain it and return it to the pot. Add the marinara sauce mixture and toss to coat the pasta. Add the sausage and artichokes, and carefully toss until completely combined. (At this point I should have added 1/2 of the cheese to the pasta mixture. I put all the cheese on top when I made it this time, but next time I'll mix some of the cheese in.) Scoop pasta mixture into a large casserole dish, and sprinkle the mozzarella cheese on top.
Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 10 to 15 more minutes, until the pasta is heated through and the sauce is bubbling on the sides.