This is my go-to meal when a friend is welcoming home a new baby or needs a helping hand with dinner, and feeds a large group so easily! It’s also #meatlessmonday friendly, as the sausage is totally optional.
- 1 pound cottage cheese
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 ½ cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 pound ziti or rigatoni
- 1 (32 oz.) jar marinara sauce – I like Rao’s
- ½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
- cracked black pepper
- ¾ teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 8 ounces mozzarella cheese , cut into ¼-inch pieces
- Cooked Italian sausage, optional – see directions below
Preheat oven to 375°F. Whisk cottage cheese, eggs, and 1 cup Parmesan together in medium bowl; set aside. Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in large pot over high heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and add pasta; cook, stirring occasionally until pasta begins to soften but is not yet cooked through about 7 minutes. Drain pasta and leave in a colander (do not wash the pot).
Add heavy cream to the pot and whisk in cornstarch over medium heat. Bring to simmer and cook until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove pot from heat and add cottage cheese mixture, 1 cup marinara sauce, basil, and ¾ cup mozzarella, then stir to combine. (*if using Italian sausage, add here) Add pasta and stir to coat thoroughly with sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Transfer pasta mixture to 13- by 9-inch baking dish and spread remaining marinara sauce evenly over pasta. Sprinkle remaining ¾ cup mozzarella and remaining ½ cup Parmesan over top. Cover baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 25 minutes.
Remove foil and increase heat to broil. Broil for 5 minutes until golden and bubbly. Cool for 10-15 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil and serve.
*You can easily add 1 lb. of sweet Italian sausage to this recipe. Brown the sausage in a large skillet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil until golden brown and crispy. Then transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to cool. Stir the cooked sausage into the sauce mixture just before combining with the pasta.
- Category: main
- Cuisine: italian