If your looking for a delicious way to feed a crowd this Baked Ziti with Sausage and Béchamel will wow your guests! Easy on the cook using store bought Marinara sauce with a super simple Béchamel Sauce to make it creamy and cheesy!
Don’t be scared by that fancy word ‘Béchamel’. I promise to take you step by step thru the very simple process which takes about 5 minutes. If you can melt butter…you can make this sauce!
HOW TO MAKE THIS BAKED PASTA:
First step: Get your water boiling for the pasta. Getting a head start will save you tons of time!
Classic Ziti is a tube shape. You can use other varieties of pasta in this dish but they need to be hearty like penne or even large shells will work.
HOW TO MAKE BECHAMEL SAUCE:
If you have made homemade mac and cheese, you have made Béchamel!
- melt butter
- add flour and cook for 1-2 minutes
- add milk
- stir in cheese and you got sauce!
How about that! You are so fancy!
Now you have made your fancy sauce. Time to start on the sausage….
What kind of Sausage should I use?
- We like mild Italian Sausage.
- If you like it with a kick try Spicy Italian Sausage.
- Watching your fat? Try Italian Chicken Sausage.
- Cook your sausage until done breaking up with a spoon. Add your two jars of store bought Marinara Sauce. Yes thats right we use store bought marinara. I mean you just made homemade Béchamel right? A little homemade, a little ‘not so much’. Perfect combo!
PRO TIP: Do not purchase sauce with added favors like beef or mushroom. It really changes this dish. Stick with simple Marinara Sauce located right there in the spaghetti sauce aisle.
- Cook your pasta according to the package directions.
- Before draining your pasta reserve about 1/3 of a cup of the starchy cooking water. Adding this back into the pasta and sauce will help marry all those flavors together! Pour your drained past back into the pot it boiled in.
- Pour your sausage and Marinara sauce mixture into the drained pasta. Give a big stir and pour into your baking dish.
- Top with your beautiful Béchamel sauce.
- Smooth it with a spoon and sprinkle with parmesan cheese….More cheese please!
- If you are making ahead of time, this is wear you stop, cover and refrigerate.
HOW TO MAKE THIS BAKED ZITI PASTA DISH IN ADVANCE:
- THIS IS A GREAT MAKE AHEAD PASTA CASSEROLE! Because this is so creamy and full of sauce you won’t have the problem of the pasta soaking up all that delicious sauce and becoming dry.
- After topping with sauce and cheese, cover with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator up to 24 hours.
- PRO TIP: Remove from fridge about 30 minutes before baking to warm up a bit. This will make the baking time shorter and keep it from being cold in the middle and hot on the edges.
MORE CROWD PLEASING PASTA CASSEROLES:
A few of our favorites are:
Hope you and everyone you love enjoys this delicious casserole!
To the people we love to feed…all of ya!
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Baked Ziti with Sausage and Bechamel
- 1/2 cup butter
- 3/4 cup flour
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 cup grated Parmesan
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
Pasta and Sauce
- 1 pound mild Italian sausage pork, chicken or turkey
- 1 pound ziti pasta penne can be substituted
- 2 26 ounce jar marinara sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. (While water is coming to a boil start your Bechamel) Add pasta and cook according to package directions. About 8-10 minutes.
For Bechamel Sauce
- In large skillet melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until fully incorporated and no visible signs of flour remain. About 1-2 minutes.
- Pour in milk and continue to stir until thick and bubbly. About 5 minutes. Sauce is perfect when it coats the back of a spoon.
- Add salt , pepper and nutmeg. Stir in parmasan and taste for seasoning. (We almost always have to add a bit more salt but it depends on how salty your cheese is so tasting is the key!)
- Remove Bechamel from heat and set aside.
- In large skillet add sausage. Remove casings if necessary. Cook breaking up with a wooden spoon until crumbly and cooked through. (If you prefer, and we do, drain any grease if necessary).
- Pour marinara sauce into ground sausage. Simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Reserve 1/3 cup of starchy pasta water and drain pasta. Pour hot pasta back in pot you cooked it in. Add sausage and marinara mixture. Add reserved water back into the pasta and sauce. This helps marry the sauce and pasta. Combine well.
- Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray. Pour pasta, sausage and marinara into dish.
- Pour Bechamel sauce over the top of the pasta and spread out with a spoon.
- Top with additional 1/2 cup of parmasan and bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly around sides and sauce is slightly brown.
- Serve with crusty french bread and a simple salad!
- We used mild Italian Sausage but you can spice it up with spicy Italian Sausage or cut out some calories with chicken sausage.
- Use Marinara sauce without flavorings such as beef or mushroom if possible.