Pancetta, or cured pork belly, is the same thing as bacon without the smoke. Find it in the deli case of most supermarkets. Native to Italy, San Marzano tomatoes are known for their sweet flavor. Consider trying them in place of regular crushed tomatoes in the sauce.
Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare ziti according to package directions for al dente.
Meanwhile, cook pancetta in a large skillet over medium-high heat 3 minutes. Add onion and garlic, and sauté 3 minutes or until onion is tender. Add sausage, and sauté 5 minutes or until meat is no longer pink. Add wine, and cook 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and next 3 ingredients. Reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes.
Stir ricotta and 1 cup mozzarella cheese into hot cooked pasta. Lightly grease a 13- x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Transfer pasta mixture to prepared dish, and top with sausage mixture. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese.
Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until bubbly.
Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen and Hog & Hominy, East Memphis, TN
I've tried a number of baked ziti recipes over the years, but this one stood out to me and my husband as the best. It is the only one in which I've used pancetta (can use bacon if pancetta not available), so maybe that was the special difference. For some reason, there was no fresh basil at my market so I used a heaping tablespoon of basil stir-in paste in the tube. I liked the ratio of pasta/meat sauce/cheese and the addition of red wine also. I did use hot Italian sausage (personal preference). I froze the casserole before baking and it did not suffer at all in flavor; leftovers also were very good. I would highly recommend this baked ziti!
I enjoyed this casserole a lot. It was easy to make, hearty, and tasty. The pancetta was great and added a lot of flavor. After I added it I thought that 1 cup of wine was way too much but the consistency after baking was perfect. The sausage and onions do take on the flavor of the wine so make sure you use good wine.
I'm very picky about this lend of pasta recipe and my 2 year old grandson is even pickier! I used Italian sausage stuffed w fire roasted tomatoes and mozzarella, but otherwise followed exactly. It's wonderful and will become a regular in Grammy's kitchen!
We absolutely loved this recipe. I've made one similar to it, but it didn't have near as much flavor as this version did. Using the sausage was a great idea, as was the pancetta and red wine for deglazing. High marks from the whole family on this one. You can read my full review at Taking On Magazines: http://bit.ly/1lwpCRm
This is a very favorite dish for my husband and me. It is great for a one-entree dinner, a potluck, or our favorite--leftovers. I love salads so served with a salad would be good also. I used bacon instead of pancetta and merlot wine. The second time I made it I mixed about a cup of the meat sauce in the zita and cheese mixture before pouring it into the baking dish and it distributed that yummy sausage flavor throughout. It is on our dinner menu again this week.
Absolutely wonderful recipe.... I also substituted with bacon and added a little extra oregano as well. A really delicious flavor that is complimented with the red wine!!
I certainly will make this one again soon!!
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