I was off work one day and decided to give this dish a try. I am so glad I did, it is the best Baked Ziti I have ever had. As I have stated a few times my store was out of basil so I used dried in the sauce, and omitted it from the top. My cornstarch and cream mixture never really thickened as I hoped, but I tossed it in as it came out just fine. I have read you can use pre-made Alfredo sauce in its place.
From Annie's Eats, originally from Cooks Illustrated
1 pound whole milk or 1% cottage cheese
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 cups), divided
1 pound ziti
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
20 ounces turkey Italian sausage
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
5 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 28 ounce can tomato sauce
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves, divided
1 teaspoon sugar
Ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream (or whole milk)
8 ounce low-moisture mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350° F. Whisk cottage cheese, eggs, and 1 cup Parmesan together in a medium bowl; set aside. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta; cook until pasta begins to soften but is not yet cooked through, 5-7 minutes. Drain the pasta and leave in colander.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Crumble in the turkey sausage and cook until nearly browned. Add in the onion and garlic and continue to cook until the onion is softened and the sausage is completely browned. Stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and oregano; simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Off the heat, stir in 1/2 cup basil and the sugar, and season with salt and pepper.
In a small bowl stir together the cornstarch and heavy cream. Transfer the mixture to the now-empty stockpot over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, 3-4 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and add the cottage cheese mixture, 1 1/2 cups of the tomato sauce and 3/4 cup mozzarella. Stir to combine. Add the pasta and toss to coat thoroughly with the sauce.
Transfer the pasta to a 9×13″ baking dish and spread the remaining tomato sauce evenly over the top. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan over the top. Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove the foil from the pan and continue to cook until the cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes longer. Cool for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons basil and serve.Recipe Rewind: Pizza Dip and Taco Pasta Salad