Baked Ziti With Sausage and Vegetables

November 9, 2014

1 lb. spicy or regular Italian bulk sausage
1 lb. box uncooked ziti or penne pasta
2  (24-ounce) jars spaghetti sauce*
2 eggs
1 (15-ounce) container part skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
1 package frozen, chopped spinach, thawed
1 tsp. salt
freshly ground pepper
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded (4 cups)

*The zestier the sauce, the better!

Cook sausage. Combine ricotta, ¼ cup Parmesan, eggs, salt and pepper in a bowl. Squeeze excess liquid from spinach and add to ricotta mixture. Mix well. Spray crock with cooking spray. Place half of the uncooked noodles in the bottom of the slow cooker. Add 2 cups sauce and toss to coat. Layer half of the sausage, half of the ricotta mixture, 1 cup mushrooms and 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella. Repeat with remaining noodles, sauce, sausage, ricotta, mushrooms and cheese. Top with any remaining sauce. Reserve remaining mozzarella and ¼ cup Parmesan until ziti in finished cooking. Cook on low for four hours or until noodles are tender. To finish, top with remaining cheese and cook for 15 minutes, until cheese is melted.  Serves 6-8. Leftovers freeze well.

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