Spicy Ziti with Spinach

Spicy Ziti


I’ve seen many recipes over the years claiming to be “Ziti.” But for me, this right here is the only recipe that counts.

It was, if memory serves me correctly, the first recipe I ever found on the Internet (with the help of my computer savvy husband).

Epicurious became my best friend in the kitchen…though back then I was tethered to a desktop computer and had to print everything out. The horror!

Spicy Ziti with Spinach was and still is my low-fuss-but-looks-fancy meal. It’s kind of pretty with those red tomatoes, green spinach and golden noodles.

I make Ziit for special occasions at home and also deliver it to friends who are ill or moving or having babies.

Simple. Awesome. Ziti.

Ziti truly means a long tube-shaped pasta cut into pieces.  So, most is made with some penne pasta.

Mine is not.

My hubby has developed a passion for spiral pasta. He’s convinced it holds the sauce better. And, it probably does.

So now my ziti is made with fusilli.

My last batch of Spicy Ziti was especially fantastic. I thawed and pureed my frozen garden tomatoes. I’m repeatedly impressed by how much I enjoy using the frozen bounty of last summer’s garden. I plan to post more about that as gardening season begins.

Ingredients List

Serves 6-8

  • Olive oil spray
  • 3/4 lb hot, ground Italian sausage
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes (or diced and then puree yourself)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup basil pesto sauce (any brand)
  • 3 cups dry pasta (fusilli or penne), cooked 2 minutes less than package directions
  • 2 cups frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan (not powder)
  • 6 oz of mozzarella cheese, cubed
  • Crushed red pepper (optional)


Hint: I begin preparing this meal by heating water for cooking the pasta. I get it cooked and drained and then return the pasta to the big pasta pot.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Lightly oil 9×13 baking dish.

Over medium-high heat, brown sausage, onion and garlic in a large, deep skillet. Cook for 10 minutes or until sausage is cooked through.

Add in tomatoes and juices. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the pesto and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Turn off the heat.

Ziti with mozzarella cubes and ready for the oven.

In a large bowl (or in the big pasta pot) gently combine the pasta, tomato sauce, chopped spinach and Parmesan. Turn pasta with a big spoon until evenly coated and spinach is evenly distributed.

Pour pasta mixture into the 9×13 baking dish. Evenly press in mozzarella cubes throughout.

Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until bubbly throughout.

Serve warm and with a little crushed red pepper if you really like it spicy.





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