Taylor Tries to Cook: One-Pot Ziti

This week was kind of nerve-wracking. I’m home for a few days to run some errands, so I decided to use my parents as guinea pigs this week. I’ve never actually made them anything more complicated than grilled cheese, so they were a little wary that I would be able to feed them something that actually takes a little bit of effort. This week, I wanted to make one of these “one-pot” recipes that are so popular on Pinterest to see what all the fuss is about. I found a one-pot ziti recipe that seemed pretty simple and dove in.

Browning the hot Italian sausage
Browning the hot Italian sausage

Perks of cooking for your parents: ingredients are paid for by them, I don’t need to buy things I’ll probably only use once, and due to our “the cook doesn’t do dishes” rule, I got out of dishes. They also supplied an incredible red wine to go with the pasta. Cabernet goes great with this dish, by the way.

My mom helping out a little
My mom helping out a little

I admittedly got some help from my mom this week, because who just instinctively knows the best way to remove sausage from its casing or how much pre-chopped garlic equates to four cloves? Certainly not me. Luckily my mom is wonderful and was willing to give me a little guidance here and there. I did do most of it myself, though.

This dish is honestly as simple as it seems. First you brown the Italian sausage (the recipe doesn’t call for it specifically, but I used hot Italian sausage), seasoning as it browns. Next you add the crushed tomatoes and let it simmer for a while. Then you add the pasta and 3 cups of water, bring it to a boil, and cover the pot to let it simmer for about fifteen minutes. Mix in the heavy cream and parmesan, and sprinkle the mozzarella over the top. The recipe doesn’t call for broiling it at the end, but my mom recommended it to ensure that the mozzarella gets all melted and gooey. I put the broiler on high and just kept an eye on it and took it out when all the cheese had melted.

My parents were actually super impressed with how delicious this dish was, and honestly so was I. My mom even asked for the recipe so she could use it later for dinner and football parties. Not being super confident in my own abilities, I was a little nervous throughout the process of making it, despite the amazing smell of the Italian sausage and tomato sauce. It was perfectly creamy, cheesy, and had a little bit of a bite. This is a great, easy dish to make if you want to trick people into thinking you have your life together and impress them.

The finished product!
The finished product!

RECIPE (from damndelicious.net):


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more, to taste
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 12 ounces ziti pasta
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves, chiffonade


  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add Italian sausage and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the sausage as it cooks. Stir in garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Stir in tomatoes and bring to a simmer until slightly thickened, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in pasta and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer until pasta is cooked through, about 13-16 minutes.
  • Remove from heat; stir in Parmesan and heavy cream. Top with mozzarella and cover until cheese has melted, about 2 minutes.
  • Serve immediately, garnished with basil, if desired.
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