This Skillet Baked Ziti adapted from America’s Test Kitchen is a fantastic one-dish dinner that your whole family will adore!
1 pound Italian sausage or Italian turkey sausage (“hot” or “sweet”)
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed (about 2 tablespoons)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 cups water
12 ounces (about 3 3/4 cups) ziti pasta
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 ounce Parmesan chees, grated (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves (fresh is best, but if you need to sub dried, use a heaping tablespoon of dried basil and add it in with the tomatoes)
ground black pepper
4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (1 cup)
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 475 degrees. Pulse the tomatoes with their juice in a food processor until coarsely ground and no large pieces remain, about 12 pulses.
Heat 12-inch or larger oven-safe skillet to medium high heat and add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Remove sausage from castings and cook, crumbling with a spatula until browned and cooked through, about 3-5 minutes. (If you’re not using sausage, just add a little more olive oil and start with the next step, sauteing the garlic and pepper flakes.) Add garlic and red pepper flakes to sausage and cook for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Stir in the processed tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes no longer tate raw, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the water, then add the pasta. Cover, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring often and adjusting the heat to maintain a vigorous simmer, until the pasta ins tender, 15-18 minutes.
Stir in the cream, Parmesan, and basil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the mozzarella evenly over the top. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the cheese has melted and browned, 10-15 minutes (or just until melted, like, 1-2 minutes). Serve.
Note: This recipe is to be cooked in a 12 inch skillet. I recommend using one slightly larger if you’re adding the sausage as well. Make sure your skillet is oven proof (no plastic handles) and has a lid.