{Baked Ziti}

We love this meal, it’s one that the whole family (kids included) will gobble up. It makes a pretty big pan, so a lot of the time I will make it when we are having people over for dinner. Its also great to split into 2 pans and freeze one for later.

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 whole Large Onion, Diced
1 pound Italian Sausage
1 pound Ground Beef
1 can (28 Oz.) Whole Tomatoes, With Juice
2 cans (14.5 Ounce) Tomato Sauce Or Marinara Sauce
2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
Salt And Pepper, to taste
16 ounces, weight Ziti Or Rigatoni, Cooked Until Not Quite Al Dente
1  regular size tub of Cottage Cheese
1-1/2 pound Mozzarella Cheese, Grated
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 whole Egg
Fresh Minced Parsley

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté for several minutes, or until starting to soften. Add Italian sausage and ground beef and cook until browned. Drain off fat, leaving a bit behind for flavor.

Add tomatoes, tomato juice, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Stir and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. After that time, remove 3 to 4 cups of the sauce to a different bowl to cool down.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a separate bowl, mix together the cottage cheese, 2 cups of the grated mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, and salt and pepper. Stir together just a couple of times.

Drain the pasta and rinse under cool water to stop the cooking and cool it down. Pour it into the bowl with the cheese mixture and toss to slightly combine (there should still be large lumps.) Add the cooled meat sauce and toss to combine.

Add half the coated pasta to a large casserole dish or lasagna dish. Spoon half of the remaining sauce over the top, then top with half the remaining mozzarella cheese. Repeat with another layer of the coated pasta, the sauce, and the mozzarella.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbling. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

(Sprinkle chopped parsley over the pasta before serving!)

Recipe Source: The Pioneer Woman

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