Load Me Up With Hot or Mild

I shop at a very regular kind of grocery store. It is a large place, so there is a wide variety of products, but I cannot say that anything about it is special. The produce is generally fresh and the cans are not dented, so it meets many of my basic requirements.

Like many grocery stores, they have a wide display of pre-cut meats. Beef, pork, chicken, turkey and seafood occupy quite a bit of refrigerated displays and generally you find just about any cut pre-wrapped in plastic sitting on a styrofoam tray. In addition to the sea of protein, the store has a butcher counter and unlike many stores, actually cut their own meat on site.

I find that I rarely go to the counter. Much of what is sitting in the counter display can easily be found in other cases and the prices seem to be identical. Why stand and wait for the butcher to serve me when I can just grab and go? Plus, since I usually shop for a whole week, the plastic-wrapped meat freezes better than the paper wrapped items I’d get at the counter. I have two common exceptions. The first is when I want a big ole brisket. For some weird reason, the only brisket out for the masses is pre-marinated to become corned beef.

The second reason is to get a quantity of bulk Italian sausage. I don’t need the links. I don’t need the patties. Just load me up with either hot or mild (or a mixture of both) and let me roll. I am a big fan of the hot while my kids prefer the mild, so I tend to mix the two in recipes.

As you would expect, this is a very flavorful dish.

The original recipe called for sausage links. While this would have given a different texture to the meal, I preferred the bulk sausage spreading throughout the entire dish.

I fried up the sausage and removed it from the pan.

The peppers went in next.

Putting it all back in the pan.

Adding the pasta.

I liked how this recipe took the next step and went for the jugular by adding melted cheese on top.

So beautiful looking.

Baked Ziti with Sausage and Peppers

Prep Time: 15 mins | Cook Time: 1 hr | Makes: 6 | Difficulty: Easy


  • 1 1/2 lbs hot or sweet Italian style pork sausage
  • 2 medium red bell peppers or 1 red and 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 (28 ounce ) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Salt
  • 3 ounces whole wheat ziti or low carb penne
  • 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese


1) Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add sausage and cook, turning, until brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Prick sausage with a fork as it cooks to release juices. Remove sausage and let cool slightly; cut into 1/2 ” slices.

2) pour off all but 1 tbsp fat. Add peppers and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Return sausage to pan; add tomatoes and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, and cook until thickened, 15-20 minutes. Season with salt to taste.

3) meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, then stir into sausage and pepper mixture. Heat oven to 375°.

4) Spread half of the sausage and pepper mixture in a 2 1/2  to 3 quart baking dish. Cover with half of the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Spread remaining sausage and peppers over cheeses. Cover with remaining cheeses. Bake until bubbly, about 15 minutes.

To freeze: if freezing, do not bake ahead. Assemble in baking dish as instructed in recipe. Cool completely. Wrap well with heavy duty foil.

T reheat: bake at 375° until bubbly, about 15 minutes. Slide under broiler for 2 minutes if a crunch top is desired. Or remove from freezer, unwrap, and bake in a 375° oven until hot and bubbly, 35 to 40 minutes.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Cheese2, Italian, Lunch2, Pasta, Pork, Recipes

Author:The Ranting Chef

Check out the best recipes at rantingchef.com

9 Comments on “Load Me Up With Hot or Mild”

  1. April 18, 2013 at 11:17 am #

    I was born in the Italian Neighborhood of STL and we’re lucky to have a couple of great little groceries for such items! Also, do you have any quinoa recipes you like in your bag of tricks? My wife loves it, but I always screw it up.


    • April 18, 2013 at 11:26 am #

      I do have a few. Use the search feature (right side) and enter quinoa. You’ll get all posts with it. There are a few good ones – both main dishes and sides.


  2. April 18, 2013 at 11:39 am #

    my husband loves baked ziti! I’ve never tried it with peppers like that 🙂 I should surprise him and make it!


  3. April 18, 2013 at 11:54 am #

    This looks easy to do and loaded with flavor – thanks!


  4. April 18, 2013 at 7:55 pm #

    Looks absolutely delicious!


  5. April 18, 2013 at 8:01 pm #

    Wow–I really like the take on this–S&P and Ziti–but in a caserole! The bulk sausage is a great idea!


  6. April 19, 2013 at 9:06 am #

    Just got some some freshly made bulk sausage from a friend, guess what I’m going to do with it??


  7. April 19, 2013 at 9:55 am #

    Looks delicious, my favorite thing about the recipes I see here are they aren’t full of hard to get ingredients.


  8. April 19, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

    Looks easy, and everything in it is good — anything with that much cheese HAS to be good!


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