- 8 oz bulk Italian sausage (I used a combo of hot and sweet)
- 1 can (14.5 oz) fire roasted diced tomatoes (don’t drain)
- 1 head of fennel (also known as anise)
- 1 large eggplant
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbs tomato paste
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 2 tbs sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 6 oz uncooked ziti or penne
- 1½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- Brown sausage meat; drain and place in the crock of a 5-7 quart slow cooker
- Peel eggplant and cut into cubes about 1-inch big; add to crock.
- Cut stems off fennel, core and slice thinly, add to crock.
- Add the garlic, tomato paste, fire roasted tomatoes, water, wine, Italian seasoning, sugar and salt to the crock. Stir well to combine.
- Cover and cook on high 3-3½ hours, low 6-7 hours
- Add the uncooked ziti–if you cooked on low, turn it up to high to cook the pasta–stirring so the pasta is submerged in the sausage/eggplant mixture.
- Cook for 30 minutes on high
- Stir and sprinkle with the shredded cheese; cover and cook 10 minutes.
- Uncover and let the baked ziti stand on warm setting for 5-10 minutes before serving.
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