On vacation we ate at a wonderful little Italian restaurant in downtown Santa Barbara. They served a marvellous baked ziti in a white sauce. I searched for a similar recipe to no avail, but recently found something I could adapt, and we are more than pleased with it. I prefer it with penne. This dish is extremely rich, very flavorful and is halved easily for an 8" baking dish. I serve it with sliced fresh tomatoes and plain steamed broccoli. Although Italian white sauce doesn't seem to be the most common, there are some out there.
Beebee's Baked Penne with Italian Sausage in White Cheese Sauce
1 lb pkg penne 4 T salad oil 1 lb sweet or hot Italian sausage
Sauce: 1/2 c butter 1/2 c flour 1 t salt or less; start with less; the dish is salty because of cheese/sausage 1 t white pepper 4 c milk 1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese 3-4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced very fine
Cheese Layer: 1 1/2 lb cottage cheese 1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese 2 eggs 2 T basil Salt and pepper 1/2 lb Mozzarella cheese, grated Paprika
Remove Italian sausage from casing and brown in skillet until there is a little crust on some of it. With a potato masher, or other comparable tool, keep mashing and separating the sausage into tiny bits. Remove to double thickness of paper towels, and drain.
Cook penne as directed and drain.
To make sauce, melt butter in medium saucepan, when the foam disappears, add garlic and cook for a minute or so more; remove from heat. Stir in flour, salt and pepper until smooth. Gradually stir in milk. Bring to boiling, stirring. Reduce heat; simmer 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.
In bowl, combine ziti, browned sausage, and sauce.
To make cheese layer; in medium bowl, combine cottage cheese, Parmesan, eggs, basil, salt and pepper; mix well.
In bottom of 9 x 13 inch baking dish, spoon half the penne sauce mixture. Layer with cheese mixture. Spoon on remaining penne sauce mixture. Sprinkle with grated Mozzarella and paprika. Bake uncovered 35 to 40 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Makes 10 servings.
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