December/January 2016

One-Pot Baked Ziti with Sausage and Spinach

Baked ziti usually requires at least three pots and pans. Wouldn’t just one pot be better?

Why This Recipe Works

We start this easy one-pot meal by browning sweet Italian sausage in a Dutch oven before adding canned tomato sauce and canned diced tomatoes. A few pantry staples—minced garlic, dried oregano, sugar, and fresh basil—add complexity and a little heat to the sauce. To eliminate the need for a second pot to cook the pasta in, we simmer it right in the flavorful sauce. To add creaminess and texture to the dish, we stir in a combination of Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses, along with chopped baby spinach. To finish, we dollop the top with ricotta and more mozzarella and Parmesan and then place the pot under the broiler to melt and brown the cheeses. A sprinkling of fresh basil adds a final flourish.


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Serves 4 to 6


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8 ounces sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (28-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon sugar
teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups water
12 ounces (3 3/4 cups) ziti
6 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
7 ounces (7 cups) baby spinach, chopped coarse
6 ounces whole-milk mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (1 1/2 cups)
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1 cup)
8 ounces (1 cup) whole-milk ricotta cheese
Nutritional Information


Per Serving (Serves 4)

  • Calories 764
  • Cholesterol 89 mg
  • Fat 27 g
  • Sodium 1833 mg
  • Saturated 14 g
  • Carbs 85 g
  • Trans 0g
  • Dietary Fiber 8 g
  • Monounsaturated 8 g
  • Sugar 13 g
  • Polyunsaturated 1 g
  • Protein 46 g

The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Serves 4 to 6

You can substitute part-skim versions of ricotta and mozzarella cheese here. Avoid preshredded cheese, as it does not melt well.

1. Cook sausage in Dutch oven over medium-high heat, breaking up pieces with spoon, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and their juice, salt, oregano, sugar, and pepper flakes. Bring mixture to boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.

2. Stir in water, pasta, and 4 tablespoons basil. Increase heat to high and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer vigorously, uncovered, until pasta is still very firm but just starting to soften, 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Adjust oven rack 8 inches from broiler element and heat broiler.

3. Remove pot from heat and stir in spinach, 3/4 cup mozzarella, and 1/2 cup Parmesan. Dollop surface of pasta evenly with spoonfuls of ricotta. Top with remaining 3/4 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan.

4. Broil ziti until cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons basil and serve.

Test Kitchen Technique: Saucy Solution

Rather than boil the pasta in a separate pot of salty water, we added dried ziti directly to the simmering tomato sauce to cook. To ensure all the pasta is fully submerged, we also added 2 cups of water to the mix. We took care to remove the pot from the heat before the pasta was completely done, because the pot went back to the oven to broil after the cheese and spinach were stirred in. If the pasta were fully cooked before this final step, it would end up mushy.