Food is just too expensive to waste. If you want a great recipe that you can incorporate leftovers and fool the family into thinking that they are eating a fresh dish, then you will love my baked ziti casserole recipe. It has all the necessary cheese lusciousness that can lure them to the table while camouflaging what you may have left in the refrigerator.
Besides using as a little as a cup of leftover chicken, beef, turkey or ham, I also add two hot sausage links for contributing that wonderful Italian flavor. To highlight that irresistible flavor even more, I use a blend of cheeses from cottage cheese, mozzarella to Parmesan along with an egg for a custard like base for the ziti macaroni. You can add as much leftover meat as you like depending on what you have available, but this recipe does have plenty of other sources of protein if you just have a small amount to figure out what to do with.
I also make another version of a similar casserole with hot sausages that has a tomato-cheese base, which is very good. Sometimes, I do throw in some leftover meat in that dish too when hungry for more tomato goodness.
The next time that you some leftover meat and want to try something new, I hope that you will print out my baked ziti casserole recipe to cook for dinner. If your family is anything like mine, this dish will solve that leftover problem and please everyone at the same time.
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Baked Ziti Casserole Recipe
- 2 cups of uncooked ziti macaroni
- 2 hot sausage links chopped
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1/4 cup of butter or margarine
- 2 cups of milk
- 1/4 cup of flour
- ½ cups of Parmesan cheese divided
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- ½ teaspoons of black pepper
- 1 lb. carton of cottage cheese 16 oz.
- 1 large egg beaten
- 1 cup of cooked chopped chicken, beef, ham, turkey, etc.
- 1 cup of grated mozzarella cheese
Cook the ziti first, drain and set aside.
Cook sausage in the olive oil in a skillet for about 15 minutes or until browned. Drain and set aside.
Next, melt the butter in another saucepan or skillet on low heat before taking off the heat.
Now add the flour gradually to stir through to form a thicker paste.
Return to the stove and cook this mixture about a minute or so. Now slowly stir in the milk and continue cooking this on medium heat, carefully stirring until this forms a thickened white sauce.
When the milk, butter and flour are at this consistency is the time that you stir in 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, salt and the pepper. Take off of the heat and set aside for a few moments.
In a mixing bowl, stir in an egg to your cottage cheese and remaining Parmesan cheese. Set aside.
After you complete that, you need to grease a casserole dish (about 2-1/2 quart size) that has a lid.
Next, you just layer part of the ziti, then the milk mixture, repeating with the ziti layer last.
Finish by pouring the cottage cheese-egg mixture over the top of your baked ziti casserole.
Cover with lid and then bake in an oven at 350-degrees for about one hour or until bubbly hot.