I love experimenting with different cuisines and recipes. Last week, my experimentation was a definite hit with a delicious Baked Sausage Ziti that I whipped up for a date night in layered with beef sausages, tomato sugo, creamy ricotta and gooey melted mozzarella. This dish is similar to a lasagne but only better and it may just become one of my favourite mid-week comfort meals.
In the last couple of years I have tried to eat more ethically and sustainably by actively trying to find out how the food is made and where it is sourced from by asking a lot of questions and researching the brand: I am becoming particularly fussy about buying meat locally and supporting Australian farmers and brands -even in supermarkets, there is a great range of local produce if only you know where to look. I recently discovered the delicious gourmet range of meats from Peppercorn – The Good Food Company and trust me, they are delicious.
Peppercorn is all about creating beautiful food using whole ingredients like prime Australian meat, fresh vegetables and natural casings. They go out of their way to avoid any artificial flavours and colours. The company was started back in 1997 by a butcher shop in Neutral Bay, NSW which specialised in three varieties of gourmet, extra-lean sausages that were low in fat, salt and were also heart-friendly. Now Peppercorn has expanded its range to include burgers and meatballs, also made with real premium ingredients.
Since I try to keep saturated fats to a minimum in my daily diet, I’m a big fan of their Extra Lean Range which has less than 3% saturated fat. This range also uses gluten-free rice flour and natural casings in their sausages. This low fat range was created to be heart-friendly and meet nutritionist-approved standards for saturated fat, trans fats and sodium. It is also 100% gluten-free, dairy free, nut free, soy free and lower in salt so it’s suitable for most people with intolerances and allergies.
This Baked Sausage Ziti is inspired by classic Italian and American comfort food. For me it’s like the love child of a lasagne and pasta bake. This recipe uses Peppercorn’s Extra Lean Beef Sausages combined with pasta, ricotta, mozzarella cheese and a beautifully rich tomato sauce. And it’s so easy to make! It’s layered a bit like lasagne so every bite is full of flavour.
Make sure not to over cook the pasta in this recipe because the dish will be cooked also in the oven and you don’t want stodgy, overcooked pasta! My rule of thumb is to just reduce the recommended cooking time by a minute or two to ensure your pasta is cooked perfectly at the end. To prevent the sausage cases splitting, don’t cook them over too high a heat or prick the skins as they act as steam jackets locking in the natural juices and flavours.
I am learning to love cooking larger portions so I can have plenty of leftovers to keep in the freezer. This dish is easy to store and freeze later, so it’s great for a family feast or you can spread it over a few meals. It will also keep for a couple of days in the fridge prior to baking.
If you can’t find ziti at your local supermarket, penne or another small pasta is the perfect substitute. Happy baking!
- 400g ziti or penne pasta
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves , finely diced
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 470g Peppercorn Extra Lean Beef Sausages
- 1 tbsp Italian herbs
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp paprika (plain or sweet)
- ½ tsp chili flakes
- Salt and pepper to season
- 700g tomato passata
- 400ml diced tomatoes
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 275g creamy ricotta cheese
- 170g shredded mozzarella cheese
- 60g parmesan cheese, grated
- Preheat oven to 180C. Lightly grease the base and sides of a large casserole dish
- Cook penne or ziti for 10 – 15 minutes according to packet instructions and subtract a minute or two) until just al dente. Drain well and set aside.
- To make the sauce, heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat then add onions and cook for a few minutes until tender then add the garlic and cook for another minute until fragrant.
- Add sausages and cook until browned on the outside then slice and add the Italian herbs, onion powder, paprika, chilli flakes and salt and pepper and cook for another few minutes.
- Add passata, diced tomatoes and sugar and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and cook on low heat for 10 minutes.
- Then it’s time to layer the bake! Spoon some of the sauce on the base of a casserole dish until covered. Add a third of the pasta and top with a third of the sauce (until pasta is well covered) and half of the ricotta mixture followed by a third of mozarella. Repeat this process then add the last third of the pasta followed by the remaining sauce and mozzarella. Finish with grated parmesan cheese.
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes covered with foil. Remove the foil and bake for another five minutes until the cheese is melted and slightly golden.
- Garnish with parsley and basil leaves and serve immediately.
For more recipe inspiration, check out their recipes on http://www.peppercornfood.com.au/recipes/.