Adapted from a 2010 Williams-Sonoma catalog. Recipe makes enough for a large 10 x 16” casserole containing sausage (serves 12) and a 9 x 13” casserole for the vegetarian version (serves 6). If your ratio of meat-eaters to vegetarians is different, modify the recipe. This recipe takes a long time but the results are worth it.
6 tablespoons olive oil or more
1 ½ pounds sweet Italian sausage (casings removed if present)
2 pounds spinach (prewashed is fine)
2 large eggplants, peeled and cut in ½” cubes
3 yellow onions, chopped
9 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ cups dry red wine
3 large 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes with juices
16 ounces ziti, cooked for as long as the package says to cook
¾ cup chopped fresh basil (or the pesto that comes in tubes)
1 cup rinsed chopped (or halves) Kalamata olives
1 ½ pounds shredded mozzarella
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 ½ cups grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Preheat oven to 400˚F. Brown sausage over medium-high heat in a large frying pan, drain on paper towels. Meanwhile steam spinach for 3 minutes in a different pot. Clean the sausage-browning fry pan to keep the veggies pure for your vegetarian friends and relatives. Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil in frying pan. Cook eggplant 6 minutes. Transfer to large bowl. Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil in frying pan over medium heat. Cook onion 5-6 minutes. Add garlic, cook 1 minute. Add wine, increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Cook 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and juices, simmer 10 minutes.
Transfer tomato sauce to really big pot. Add pasta, spinach, basil, olives, 6 cups mozzarella, and eggplant. Stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Put about one-third of mixture in the smaller 9 x 13” casserole. Add sausage to the mixture in the really big pot, stir to combine. Put the remaining mixture in the larger casserole.
Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella over both casseroles, then the Parmigiano Reggiano over both. Cover with alumninum foil. Bake 25 minutes at 400˚F. Uncover, broil at 500˚F for 5 minutes.