1 pound ground beef or ground turkey
1/2 pound ziti (I use the wheat noodles)
2 Tbsp cooking oil
1 onion, chopped (I use the frozen, pre-chopped onions - best find EVER by Jessi!)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree
1/4 tsp salt
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp fresh-ground black pepper
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups grated, packaged mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I usually just get a package of shredded Italian cheese and combine it with some shredded Parmesan)
1/4 cup pesto
1. Heat oven to 350. Oil an 8x8 baking dish.
2. In a large pot of boiling water, cook the pasta for about 7 minutes, or until partially cooked. Drain and rinse with cold water.
3. Cook ground beef/turkey. Add in onions and garlic until cooked through.
4. Add tomatoes, salt, and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer over moderate heat and cook until very thick, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Remove bay leaf.
5. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella, about half the Parmesan, the pesto, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
6. Put half of the cooked pasta into the parpared baking dish and top with about a third of the tomato sauce. Spread the cheese/pesto mixture on the sauce in an even layer. Cover with the remaining pasta and then the remaining sauce. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella and the remaining Parmesan. Bake until bubbling, about 30 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before cutting.
Recipe adapted from Food & Wine Magazine's Quick from Scratch Pasta Cookbook