I LOVE baked ziti (penne) with sausage so today was the day to make a dish. It is certainly a staple item in any catered Italian celebration that I went to back in New England.
You need -
1 quart tomato sauce (homemade is good, but a good store bought brand that you like will work too)
1 lb. mild Italian Sausage (use hot if you dare), bulk sausage (no casings) or remove casings by slicing each link down the middle and removing the sausage.
1 lb. mushrooms, thinly sliced
2-3 TBSP olive oil
1 lb. penne pasta
4-8 oz. mozzarella cheese (as cheesy as you want it)
Some grated parmesan if you like
Start the water for the pasta. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large sautee pan. Add the sausage and brown it until all the pink is gone. Add the mushrooms. Saute until the mushrooms begin to wilt. Add the tomato sauce and simmer for a few minutes. When the pasta water is boiling, add the pasta and cook until it is al dente. When you have added the pasta to the water, preheat the oven to 350F. Don't overcook the pasta as the dish will cook some more in the oven. While the pasta cooks and the sauce is simmering, oil a 13 x 9 glass casserole dish. Grate the mozzarella cheese.
Once the pasta is done, spoon about 1/3 of the tomato sauce into the bottom of the casserole, top with half the pasta and half the mozzarella cheese. top with 1/3 more tomato sauce, the rest of the pasta. Stir to combine so all the pasta is covered in sauce. Top with the remaining sauce and mozzarella cheese, sprinkle some parmesan on top if you like. Bake 30 minutes or so in the oven until the cheese is melty and the sauce bubbling. Allow to cool slightly and serve with your favorite salad and some crusty Italian bread. Yum!