Baked Ziti

I love pasta. I don't think I've even come across a pasta dish that I didn't care for, but this is one of my absolute favorites. Reminiscent of lasagna, this baked ziti dish comes from one of my favorite food magazines - Food Everyday (Martha Stewart). It is quick, easy, and is made in a 2-qt casserole dish, so it doesn't overrun your fridge.

Baked Ziti
8 oz ziti rigate (ridged)
1 cup part-skim ricotta
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
1 jar (24 to 26 ounces) tomato sauce (I like a traditional sweet tomato basil)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente, according to package instructions; drain and reserve.
In a small bowl, combine ricotta, egg, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and half the mozzarella; season with salt and pepper.
In the bottom of a shallow 2-quart casserole dish, spread half the tomato sauce. Top with ziti, then ricotta mixture and remaining sauce. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan and remaining mozzarella. Place casserole on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until top is browned and sauce is bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes.

Notes/Substitutions:  This is the recipe as Martha tells it -- I tend to add more cheese to the top.
One of the nice things about this recipe is that you can really play around with it. Try different tomato sauces; as I mentioned above, I prefer a sweet tomato basil sauce in this recipe. We have tried a few sauces, and it really makes a big difference in the overall taste of the dish. Also, I usually add a layer of meat or vegetables between the ricotta layer and top layer sauce. Some of my favorite iterations include pepperoni, spinach and pre-cooked ground beef.
And on a final note -- it is apparently really hard to take a good picture of baked ziti!

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