Makes 6 to 8 Servings
Jessie’s son J.P., who is now three, has LOVED this dish since he was 6 months old! It was one of his first “real” solid meals and continues to be one of his favorites still. There are different schools of thought about precooking the pasta for this dish, and Jessie has tried it both ways several times. While it is possible to use dried pasta, the consistency is sometimes not as uniform as one would like. It also takes a lot longer to cook! So, below we’ve included the precooked-pasta version, but you are welcome to try it the other way if you prefer. Just add some cook time and possibly some additional liquid or sauce! Also, if you use the precooked-pasta method, you can make this dish the night before, pop it in the fridge, and then take it out and bake it the next day for the same great flavors but less prep time before dinner. If you’re a busy mom or dad, you’ll love this time-saver!
1 pound gluten-free pasta of your choice (we like to use ziti)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup diced yellow onion
1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound sweet or mild Italian sausage, casing removed
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 (25-ounce) jars favorite tomato-based pasta sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded, divided
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook your pasta until it is still a bit crunchy but mostly cooked. It will finish cooking while it bakes. The cook time varies with the type of pasta you choose, so just start testing the texture after about 5 to 6 minutes. Once cooked, drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet with high sides, heat the olive oil and saute the onions until they begin to soften, about 3 to 5 minutes. Next, add the ground beef and the Italian sausage. Cook the meat until cooked through, breaking it up into crumbles as it cooks.
- Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more. Remove from the heat.
- Transfer the meat mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add the tomato sauce and mix it together thoroughly. Next, add the pasta and gently fold it into the mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- In a large baking dish (we used a 13 x 9-inch), spread approximately half of the mixture evenly in the pan. Cover with half of the mozzarella and half of the Parmesan cheese.
- Top this layer with the remaining pasta mixture and finish with a top layer of the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
- Bake uncovered for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the pasta is fully cooked, the mixture is heated through, and the cheese is gooey and melty. Cook time will vary depending on pasta shape and brand, so use the texture of the pasta as the determining factor and just use the suggested cook time as a guide.
- Remove from the oven and serve with your favorite accouterments.