In this classic baked ziti recipe, al dente pasta mingles with Italian sausage, roasted eggplant, ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheeses.

  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr 45 mins 
  • Active: 30 mins

Ingredients (19)

  • 1 large Italian globe eggplant (about 1 pound), cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives, preferably Kalamata
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound ziti pasta
  • 1 pound whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 heaping cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • [[{{1/2 cup}} grated Parmesan cheese
  • Chopped fresh basil, for garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Put the eggplant in a large colander and sprinkle with about 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Toss together and set aside for 20 minutes.
  2. Spread the eggplant into a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with a little olive oil and toss to coat. Roast, stirring once or twice, until tender and browned, about 30 minutes.
  3. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the sausage and cook, stirring and breaking it up, until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer the sausage to a bowl, straining off any fat if necessary. Reduce the heat to medium and add a drizzle of olive oil (unless there is some fat in the pan) and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, about 6 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, wine, balsamic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and stir to loosen any browned bits on the pan bottom. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer 10 minutes. Add the sausage, eggplant, and olives, bring to a simmer, and cook for another 10 minutes.
  4. While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the ziti and cook according to the package directions until just shy of al dente so it is slightly undercooked. Drain well.
  5. Lightly oil a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish. Add the pasta to the sauce and stir until combined. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Spread half the pasta mixture in the prepared baking dish then dollop evenly with the ricotta. Top with the remaining pasta mixture, then and sprinkle evenly with the mozzarella and Parmesan.
  6. Bake until heated through and bubbling, and the cheese is golden, about 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes, sprinkle with the basil, and serve.