1 pound ziti, rigatoni, or other medium pasta shape (I use Penne)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3-4 small zucchini, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes in purée
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 (15-ounce) container Ricotta cheese (Part-skim is fine)
2/3 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 pound mild/sweet Italian sausage, casings removed and sausage crumbled, optional
1. Prepare pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, warm the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, zucchini and garlic. Sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover the pan and cook until the vegetables are very soft, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Preheat oven to 325*F. Blend together the egg and Ricotta cheese until smooth. In a 3-quart casserole dish, layer the pasta, Ricotta cheese and tomato mixture, ending with a layer of the tomato mixture. Sprinkle the top with grated Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Bake until golden brown on top and bubbling, about 45 minutes.
Optional Preparation: If using sausage, cook in the skillet over medium-high heat for step 1 before adding vegetables. Omit olive oil and add vegetables to skillet. Prepare the rest of the recipe as directed.
When I’m feeling lazy, I skip layering the components and just combine them all in a casserole dish and stir well before topping with cheese. This is a great baked pasta dish. You could easily use prepared pasta sauce instead of crushed tomatoes, and just adjust the seasonings to taste.
I used Barilla's Plus pasta for this and can't tell a difference in taste between it and white pasta.