- 1 pound ziti or penne
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 pound lean ground sirloin
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- One 24-ounce jar marinara sauce (3 cups)
- 1 1/2 cups fresh ricotta (about 12 ounces)
- 1 large round ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced thinly
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- If you’re making this ahead, don’t preheat your oven yet. If you’re making it all at once, preheat your oven to 450.
- In a large deep skillet, heat the olive oil on medium heat, add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook until the onion is softened but not brown. Add the garlic and cook another minute just until fragrant. Add the ground sirloin, crushed red pepper and paprika, seasoning with salt. Turn the heat up to high, break up the meat with a spoon and cook until the meat is brown (and no longer pink). Add the sauce, bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook–partially covered–for 5 minutes until the sauce tastes great. Set aside.
- Boil the pasta in a large pot of salted water. Cook one or two minutes less than the package says; you want it al dente. Drain the pasta and then toss the pasta in the sauce (I found it easier to do this in the pasta pot rather than the sauce sauté pan, but it’s up to you.) Add the ricotta in large dollops and stir gently, leaving some clumps.
- Pour half the ziti into a 9X13-inch baking dish, top with half of the mozzarella and Parmesan. Repeat with the remaining ziti and cheeses. Here’s where you can cover with foil and refrigerate until you’re ready to bake.
- When you’re ready, get the oven to 450 degrees and bake the ziti–uncovered–for 15 minutes, until bubbling and browned. Let the ziti rest for 10 minutes before serving.