This is a very hearty and delicious meal that, because of the baking, has many layers to it. It was adapted from Melissa Clark in NYTimes Cooking and we decided to make it completely plant based by using vegan cheeses and sausage, but that can be ignored and real sausage and mozzarella will do just as well, we’re sure.
For a 12″ cast iron skillet you’ll need: x2 (vegan) Italian sausages (cut into 1/2″ pieces), x1 red bell pepper (cored and cut into 1/2″ squares), x4 garlic cloves (crushed and chopped), x1 shallot (peeled and chopped), 1 tsp crushed red pepper, 2-3 Tbsp fresh oregano (chopped), 1-2 Tbsp basil (dried or fresh, chopped), x2 14 oz cans of crushed tomatoes, x2 medium-sized fresh tomatoes (chopped), 1 package pasta (ziti or similar), 1-2 cups (vegan) mozzarella, 1 cup (vegan) parmesan, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Preheat the over to 425.
In your cast iron skillet (or any other over proof skillet), heat about 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add sausage and red bell pepper and stir well to coat. Cook until just browning, stirring often, about 5-8 mins.
Add in garlic, shallot, crushed red pepper and fresh oregano – stir well and cook until fragrant – about 2 mins.
Add canned and fresh tomatoes, basil, pasta and a good grinding of salt and pepper. Stir well to combine everything and ensure that the pasta is completely covered in sauce, and allow to simmer for about 5-8 mins until thickened and fresh tomatoes are starting to break down.
Add about 1 cup of water (we used the empty tomato cans adding about 1/2 cup water each and swirling it around to capture the rest of the tomatoes) and stir well. Bring back to a boil and simmer for about 2 mins.
Turn off the heat and fold in the mozzarella. Combine well.
Add a good layer of parmesan all over the top and place into the oven. Bake until the pasta is just beginning to soften, about 25 minutes.
Serve in bowls with crusty bread.