I have a go-to dish for sending over to neighbors as a thank you for plowing us out, to our friends with new babies so that they don't have to cook, as a staple in our freezer for busy, busy weeks and for game days when we want something warm, yummy and filling. I give to you- Celeste's Kinda' Famous Baked Ziti!

There is a secret to this recipe that I will share with you because you are my closest friend... Sour Cream. That's right! The delicious dairy that makes your clam dip sing is also the necessary ingredient in my baked ziti.

Here is my recipe:

  • 1.5 lbs sausage. We use sweet for the kids, but I encourage you to get creative with all aspects of this recipe
  • 1.5 lbs of ziti or pasta of your choice.
  • One huge sweet onion, rough chopped. Because they like it rough. Naughty onions.
  • 4 stalks of celery, and make sure you use the tasty leaves on the inside. Chop those up too.
  • I use 2 packages of baby bella mushrooms.
  • 2 medium size zucchini cut into quarter slices.
  • 3 jars of your favorite spaghetti sauce, or if you are a show-off, make your own.
  • Grated mozzarella cheese to your liking and enough provolone slices to cover your lasagna pan of ziti. If you like Parmesan cheese, grate it over the top before you bake the ziti.

Here we go:

  • Boil the pasta until it's el dante, a little bit chewy and not quite cooked through. It will cook more in the oven.
  • Brown the sausage and drain the fat.
  • Use the same pan with whatever leftover fat you have from the sausage to saute the vegetables.
  • Now, take out your lobster pot. Just do it, I swear it is the easiest way. In your lobster pot mix the cooked sausage, veggies and your spaghetti sauce. Add some dried oregano, kosher salt, pepper, a pinch of cinnamon and any other spice that makes you happy. Let that bubble for 20 minutes while you flip the laundry or call your sister back.
  • Now mix in the pasta. You will be tempted to eat it at this point, but remind yourself that it gets even better with cheese.
  • Layer the bottom of a lasagna pan with the sauce/pasta mix, add a layer of sliced provolone and now for the secret ingredient... on top of the provolone drop down big blobs of delicious sour cream. Now use a rubber spatula to spread it over the provolone.
  • Add another layer of pasta/sauce. At this point I cover the top with mozzarella and pop it in the oven. I take a  moment to adore it, then say goodbye for about 40  minutes as it bakes at 325 degrees.

I did a gluten free version for my friend Michelle when she had her baby boy Coleman.

My other back-up is frozen pork pie from a bakery in Biddeford. My mom gives us a few every year at Christmas and I freeze a couple for comfort food emergencies!

pork pie

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