I made this for my kids and my friend who stayed with them recently when my husband and I went out of town. Since both my friend and my kids raved about it, I had to make it again so I could try it! The verdict... DELICIOUS! I found it when searching for "freezer meals" and it makes a lot, so it would be perfect to split it into 2 square pans and cook one that night and freeze the other for a later dinner. Source: adapted by Annie's Eats from Cook’s Illustrated, March & April 2009
1 lb. (16 ounces or 2 cups) cottage cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 oz. grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 cups), divided
salt1 lb. (10 ounces) ziti pasta*
1 Tbs. olive oil
20 oz. turkey Italian sausage
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 (28 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil leaves, divided
1 tsp. sugar
ground black pepper
3/4 tsp. cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream (or whole milk)
8 oz. low-moisture mozzarella cheese, shredded
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350° F. Whisk cottage cheese, eggs, and 1 cup Parmesan together in a medium bowl; set aside. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta; cook until pasta begins to soften but is not yet cooked through, 5-7 minutes. Drain the pasta and leave in colander.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Crumble in the turkey sausage and cook until nearly browned. Add in the onion and garlic and continue to cook until the onion is softened and the sausage is completely browned. Stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and oregano; simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Off the heat, stir in 1/2 cup basil and the sugar, and season with salt and pepper.
In a small bowl stir together the cornstarch and heavy cream. Transfer the mixture to the now-empty stockpot over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, 3-4 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and add the cottage cheese mixture, 1 1/2 cups of the tomato sauce and 3/4 cup mozzarella. Stir to combine. Add the pasta and toss to coat thoroughly with the sauce.
Transfer the pasta to a 9×13″ baking dish and spread the remaining tomato sauce evenly over the top. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan over the top. Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove the foil from the pan and continue to cook until the cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes longer. Cool for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons basil and serve.
*NOTE: If you can't find ziti pasta, try penne instead. Penne is much more common in stores.