Monday, October 10, 2016

Skillet Ziti

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.
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 Ziti

Although my ancestors come from the same area of Europe, it wasn't until recently that I learned that there actually is Italian lineage in my family tree. Seems that at least one of my great times I don't know how many grandparents was actually 100% Italian! 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 {affil link}. Ah, finally some validation for this southerner's love of Italian food... thanks Rach!
Just inserting a quick reminder here.... that this is a blog, not just a "recipe site," and yes, there is a difference! I want to first thank all of you who have supported my work over the years, but if you aren't interested in the chit chat, info, photos, tips and such in a post, as always, you'll find the complete recipe text with measurements and instructions, as well as a printable document, a little bit further down the page. Just swipe or scroll down to the bottom of the post!
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.

Here's how to make it.

There's the Fasta Pasta {affil link} 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, get some veggies prepped.

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 {affil link} 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 often 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.

Mix it all together good.

Add seasonings to the skillet.

I'm using a mixture of Red Gold brand tomatoes - sauce, diced with green chilies and petite diced. This isn't sponsored and they don't know me from Adam. It's just one of the products I like to use! 

Add tomatoes to the beef and sausage mixture.

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 Dig in!

For more of my favorite pasta recipes, visit my page on Pinterest!

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Posted by on October 10, 2016
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