Hey everyone! Today I’m sharing a recipe that is literally baked in tradition! Growing up, our family tradition was to celebrate holidays at my grandparent’s house, where there was no shortage of two things: love and homemade Italian food!
I am also sharing the story of Assunta Cantisano, Ragu’s founder. She immigrated to America from Italy in 1914 with little more than her family’s pasta sauce recipe to her name. Her family’s tradition was to use only the freshest ingredients combined with flavorful herbs, resulting in a delicious pasta sauce. During the Great Depression, Assunta began selling her homemade pasta sauce as a way to help support her family. Word spread quickly about Assunta’s amazing pasta sauce, and soon after Ragu pasta sauce was born.
I am a fourth generation Italian-American. My great-grandparents immigrated from Italy to America around the same time as Assunta to make a new life for themselves. Our family traditions have been passed down through the generations, many of which were time-honored recipes that were made only from the freshest ingredients.
One of those recipes is what I based the baked ziti recipe that I’m sharing with you today! It was one of my grandmother’s favorites to bring to potlucks, and it never failed to please. I’m thrilled to make my grandmother’s recipe with Ragu pasta sauce, combining two great traditions into one fantastic dish!
I’m sharing some step-by-step directions with pictures of the recipe below!
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic, and saute for 3 minutes. Add ground Italian sausage and saute until cooked through and lightly browned. Remove from heat and let cool.
In a large bowl, mix together 1 cup of ricotta cheese, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, ¼ cup of Parmesan cheese. Stir in Ragu Mushroom Pasta Sauce and sausage mixture.
Add the rest of the coated pasta and top with dollops of the remaining ricotta cheese, then sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned and bubbling around the edges.
Here’s a chance to create some new recipe traditions and win some cash!
There’s a sweepstakes contest on Ready. Set. Cook! where you get a chance to create new recipes with Ragu pasta sauce and a set list of ingredients to win cash prizes of up to $3000! You don’t want to miss this great opportunity so be sure to check it out!called
I hope you enjoyed my story of combining one of my family’s traditions with the tradition of Ragu pasta sauce to start a whole new tradition with this delicious recipe!
- 1 jar Ragu Mushroom Pasta Sauce
- 1 (16 oz.) package ziti pasta
- 2 cups (16 oz.) ricotta cheese, divided
- 1 pound ground Italian pork sausage
- 2 cups (4 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- Fresh chopped basil leaves for garnish (optional)
- 1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9X13-inch baking dish and set aside.
- 2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti pasta, and cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain, rinse under cold water, and set aside.
- 3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic, and saute for 3 minutes. Add ground Italian sausage and saute until cooked through and lightly browned. Remove from heat and let cool.
- 4. In a large bowl, mix together 1 cup of ricotta cheese, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, ¼ cup of Parmesan cheese. Stir in Ragu Mushroom Pasta Sauce and sausage mixture. Pour the pasta into the bowl with the cheese mixture and toss to coat.
- 5. To assemble the casserole, add half of the coated pasta to a baking dish, then dot the surface with ½ cup of ricotta cheese. Add the rest of the coated pasta and top with dollops of the remaining ricotta cheese, then sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
- 6. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned and bubbling around the edges. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with fresh chopped basil (optional) and serve.
Do you have any family traditions? I’d love to hear about them! Please share them in the comments section below!
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