Favorite Baked Ziti
2 tablespoons butter
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, minced
One 28-ounce can tomato puree
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp fine salt
1 pound ziti
1 pounds mozzarella, grated
One 15-ounce tub whole-milk ricotta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, plus more for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Heat the butter in a pot over medium heat. Add the onion, seasoning with a bit of salt, and sauté until starting to soften, 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and spices and cook for a minute or two more until starting to brown.
Add the tomato puree and enough water to rinse the can of any residual sauce. Stir, bring to a simmer and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add some salt. Cook the penne until not quite al dente, reserving about 1/2-3/4 cup of the cooking water.
In a bowl, mix half of the grated mozzarella, all the ricotta, parmesan, parsley, eggs and some salt and pepper. Stir together just a couple of times (do not mix completely). Temper in the pasta water and mix.
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 a few cups of the sauce and mix to combine.
Add half the coated pasta to a large casserole dish or lasagna dish. Spoon half of the remaining sauce over the top. Repeat with another layer of the coated pasta and the remaining sauce and top with the remaining mozzarella.
Bake until bubbling, about 20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.