Baked Ziti is essentially an unfussy version of lasagna, and is a great dish for feeding a crowd. This is how I made it last night, mostly following a recipe in J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s excellent book The Food Lab. This takes about 2 hours and will feed 8 or so.
1 lb. ziti, penne, or other thick tubular pasta
1 lb. bulk Italian sausage
40 oz. good marinara sauce
8 oz. whole milk ricotta cheese
3 oz. grated Parmesan cheese (about 1.5 cups)
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup heavy cream
3 Tbs. fresh parsley, chopped
3 Tbs. fresh basil, chopped
1 lb. coarsely grated whole milk mozzarella
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Put the ziti in a large bowl and cover it a couple of inches deep with boiling hot water. Allow to soak for 30 minutes. Stir after the first 5 minutes to keep it from clumping.
While the pasta is soaking, brown the Italian sausage in a large skillet, chopping it into small pieces. Drain on paper towels.
In a large bowl mix together about 30 oz. of the marinara sauce with the ricotta, Parmesan, eggs, heavy cream, herbs, and half of the mozzarella. Mix in the cooled cooked Italian sausage.
Drain the pasta and add it to the large bowl. Mix it with the sauce and cheese. Put the mixture in a large lasagna pan. Top it with the rest of the marinara sauce and then with the remaining half of the mozzarella. Cover with aluminum foil and bake it for 45 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and bake for another 15 minutes until the cheese has browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.