Easy Baked Ziti – a decadent, easy pasta casserole dish that is meaty, gooey and cheesy. It’s a potluck favorite that can be a hearty side dish or as a main course. An absolute crowd-pleaser!
In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté bacon until brown and crisp. This may take about 6 -7 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
In the same skillet, add italian sausage to the pan, cook for about 3-5 minutes or until brown; breaking it up to prevent it from clumping.
Throw in onion, garlic , thyme and Italian seasoning – saute for about 2-3 minutes or until onions is translucent.
Stir in tomato sauce and bay leaves.
Bring to a simmer and let it cook for at least 30- 45 minutes.
While sauce is simmering , cook the pasta al dente (pasta with a bite to it). Do not overcook; you do not want it becoming too mushy.
Once sauce is ready, remove bay leaf then add bacon and pasta . Adjust seasonings salt pepper
Stir in the parmesan cheese and mozzarella (leave about ½ cup or more to sprinkle on top).
Transfer to a greased 2-quart baking dish or 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese.
Bake, uncovered, at 350° F for about 20 -30 minutes or until ziti is heated through. And top is slightly brown.Remove from oven and then let it rest for a few minutes and serve when it is still piping hot.