2teaspoonssaltplus additional for salting the pasta water
½teaspoonpepperto taste freshly ground
⅓cupfresh basil leaveschopped
Cook Pasta, Prep Cheese
On the stove, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a teaspoon or two of salt then the ziti pasta and cook for about 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain pasta, rinse quickly with cool water and set aside. Grate the mozzarella and parmesan cheeses and set aside.
Make the Tomato Sauce
Use the same pot that you cooked the pasta in and return it to the stove on medium heat, add olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add onions and garlic and cook until fragrant and softened, about 4 or 5 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, salt, pepper, Italian season and fresh basil. Simmer the sauce on low heat for about 20 minutes, stir occasionally.
Preheat oven to 375°
Spray a 9" x 13” glass baking dish with Pam or grease with shortening.
Make the Cheese Mixture
In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 ½ cups ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. Add egg and mix well. Stir in about 1 cup of tomato sauce. Add cooled pasta to the bowl and mix well.
Place half of the pasta mixture in the baking dish and dot the surface with about ½ cup of ricotta cheese. Top with the remaining pasta and pour three cups of the remaining tomato sauce on top. Dollop with remaining ricotta cheese and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella.There will still be plenty of tomato sauce left, keep it warm while the ziti bakes and use it for dipping or adding additionl sauce ot each serving.
Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, or until bubbly around the edges and lightly browned on top. If there are any fresh basil leaves remaining, chop and sprinkle on top with additional parmesan.
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This recipe makes plenty of red sauce, be sure to add a few spoonfuls to each serving. Delicious!