24 April, 2019
Three Cheese Pasta Casserole
1 Tablespoon salt
½ – 1 pound dry ziti or penne pasta (See note below)
1 pound ground beef (80/20 preferred)
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
2 Tablespoons Tuscan or Italian spice mix
1 jar (25 ounces) your favorite spaghetti sauce (Guy Fiori’s Pasta Sauce – Pepperoni Marinara flavor is excellent!)
6 slices provolone cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese (or sour cream!)
1 cup shredded Mozarella cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
In a large pot, bring 3-4 quarts of water to a boil. Add the salt and the dry pasta. Bring it back to a boil and cook for 8-9 minutes, until the pasta is just al dente but not too soft. (It will continue to absorb liquid and soften during the baking.) Drain in a colander and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium high heat, brown the ground beef, chopped onion and garlic. Drain off any excess fat and return to the pan. Add the pasta sauce and spice mix and bring it to a slow simmer.
Preheat oven to 350°
Lightly spray a 2 ½ quart casserole dish with nonstick oil. Spread about ½ cup of the pasta sauce on the bottom of the pan and start layering the ingredients in the dish, evenly spreading them out across the dish:
- ½ of the cooked ziti
- the Provolone slices
- the Ricotta cheese
- ½ the remaining sauce mixture
- the remaining ziti
- the Mozarella cheese
- the last of the sauce mixture
- top with the Parmesan cheese
Bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm, with toasted garlic bread and a side salad.
I measure dry pasta according to how many people will be eating. Although the standard box is 1 pound, that doesn’t always work for me. Instead of using a whole box, which is often too much, I scoop 1 large handful of the pasta for each person who will be enjoying this dish. If you want to serve 6, scoop out 6 heaping handfuls. If you are feeding 8 people, go ahead and scoop out 8 heaping handfuls – the rest of the ingredients as listed will still work out.
This casserole turns out well using either Ricotta cheese or small curd cottage cheese or even sour cream. Often, the sour cream is all I have on hand, so that’s what I use and it turns out great!