|An Italian-American pasta dish, this southernized version of ziti comes together fairly quickly in a skillet on top of the stove, but with no sacrifice of the classic flavor.|
Skillet ZitiAlthough my ancestors come from the same area of Europe, so far as I know, there is no direct Italian lineage in my family tree, though I sure do seem to gravitate toward good Italian food. And good French food too for that matter. Aw heck, just good food I reckon!
I can tell you for certain that I sure do love my homemade baked ziti. Love, love, love it! But... like a good lasagna, homemade baked ziti takes a little bit of work and a whole lotta love to come together. It's a process, usually involving the entire family, to help make the sauce, the meatballs and all of the stuff that goes into making a good homemade meal, full of love. That makes it a mostly weekend, and usually Sunday meal too, and as Rachael Ray has proclaimed in her newest book, Everyone is Italian on Sunday. Ah, finally some validation for this southerner's love of Italian food... thanks Rach!
My baked ziti has a good homemade sauce made with some meat, little bitty Italian meatballs stuffed in, and some serious cheese all layered in, that ohmygosh, makes my mouth water just thinking about! But, sometimes I want a little bit of that taste in a slightly quicker version. That would be this, and I do promise you that even in this more simplified version, it is most excellent too. As always, the full recipe text with measurements and instructions, as well as a printable document, is located further down, past the step by step tutorial. Here's how to make it.
There's the Fasta Pasta again y'all! My most favorite kitchen gadget of all time. Sometimes I do dry pasta in a skillet meal, but for the most part I like the texture a little better for this dish when the pasta is cooked first, and the Fasta Pasta makes that task super easy, so it's a no brainer. Otherwise, you'll need to bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta just to al dente according to package directions; drain and set aside.
While that's going, heat some olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onion, green bell pepper and celery. Cook until softened but not brown, add the garlic and cook another minute.
Remove the sausage from the casings and add to skillet, breaking up the meat coarsely. I happened to have some sweets in my freezer, but this is super excellent with the hotter version too. To remove from the casings, I just take a paring knife and run it down the backside, then just pull the casing off.
Add the meat to the skillet with the veggies and cook over medium to medium high heat until lightly browned. This chopper/masher tool is another one of my favorite kitchen gadgets. Being somebody who has worked with her hands writing and typing for more than 40 years, I've developed a bit of arthritis in my hands and this tool makes mashing so much easier. It also just does a better job than a spoon. I even use it for mashed potatoes,which for the two of us are cooked in the Fasta Pasta too. Hey, I'm all for things that help me get supper on the table a little easier!
Once browned, drain off any excess fat and add the chopped andouille.
Add seasonings and tomatoes to the skillet.
Bring to a boil, reduce to a low simmer, cover and let cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Once the ziti has stopped steaming, add it to the skillet and combine well. This helps to keep the sauce from getting watery from the steam of the pasta. Stir in 2 cups of the Mozzarella and half of the Parmesan cheese, taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
Remove from heat, top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
Cover until cheese has melted, or place into a hot oven just long enough to melt cheese.
Serve with a good side salad and some hot, buttered French bread or a good garlic bread and dig in!
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Recipe: Skillet Ziti©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 15 min |Cook time: 30 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped celery
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage, removed from casings
- 1/4 pound smoked andouille sausage, chopped
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon Creole or Cajun seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilies (like Rotel), undrained
- 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
- 3 cups dry ziti pasta
- 4 cups shredded mozzarella, divided
- 1 cup of freshly shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, reserve some for garnish
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper and celery. Cook until softened but not browned, add the garlic and cook another minute. Remove the sausage from the casings and add to skillet, breaking up the meat coarsely. Cook over medium high heat until lightly browned; drain off any excess fat and add chopped andouille. Add seasonings, tomatoes and sauce to the skillet. Bring to a boil, reduce to a low simmer, cover and let cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and generously salt. Cook the pasta just to al dente according to package directions; drain. Set aside until pasta has stopped steaming, add to sauce and combine well. Stir in 2 cups of the Mozzarella and half of the Parmesan cheese; taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
Remove from heat, top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover until cheese has melted, or place into a hot oven to melt cheese. Serve with a nice salad and some hot, buttered French bread or a good garlic bread.
Cook's Notes: Though I omitted it in the skillet version, dollop in some ricotta if you like. I wrote this pretty cheesy otherwise, but feel free to reduce the mozzarella if desired. To make this milder, omit the red pepper flakes and Cajun seasoning, use a mild smoked sausage and substitute another can of diced tomatoes for the diced with green chilies. May also substitute your favorite homemade or commercial spaghetti sauce for this dish if you prefer; you'll need about 4 cups.
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©Deep South Dish
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