Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage

This is the time of year where I find myself indulging in comfort foods. Perhaps its the cooler weather, but I've been craving {gluten free}pasta lately. With lots of cheese. The most recent pasta dish I made was this Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage. Pasta is tossed with a flavorful tomato sauce and zesty Italian sausage before being layered with mozarella and Parmesan cheese. This glorious dish is baked until the flavors have blended and the cheese melts ever so perfectly...

Joel loves his macaroni and generally likes pasta dishes. This was a dish he really enjoyed and was a nice change of pace from his favorite macaroni and cheese. I used pork Italian sausage links in place of the turkey used in the original recipe. I also added a little red wine {Merlot} for some bite in the sauce. Another change I made was using sliced mozzarella cheese in place of shredded used in the original recipe. The sliced mozzarella cheese - which you can pick up from the deli counter at the store - allows a nice, even layer as you assemble this dish.

Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage
recipe adapted from Cooking Light

1 (1-pound) package uncooked ziti {or gluten free ziti}
1 pound hot turkey or pork Italian sausage links
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 (14.5-ounce) cans petite-diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup red wine {I used Merlot}
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Cooking spray
1 cup (4 ounces) sliced mozzarella cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350°.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain the pasta, and set aside.

Remove casings from sausage. Cook sausage, onion, and garlic in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until browned, stirring to crumble. Add the tomato paste, salt, pepper, tomatoes and wine, and bring to a boil.

Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Combine cooked pasta, sausage mixture, and basil. Place half of the pasta mixture in a 4-quart casserole coated with cooking spray. Top with half of mozzarella and half of Parmesan. Repeat layers.

Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until bubbly.