One of the casseroles my two youngest children, Roni and Nessa, loved when they were young was Baked Ziti. A Quaker friend, Mary Jane Foley, brought Baked Ziti often to potluck gatherings and the girls loved it. Mary Jane made hers vegetarian, but if you like meat sauce, that’s fine too.
Since this is a meal that children generally like, I made Baked Ziti recently for the family of a coworker who just had a baby. But I made it with a meat sauce.
1 8-ounce package of uncooked ziti (pasta)
1 pound ground beef or ground turkey
3 cups Red Sauce
1 1/4 cups Ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried basil)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Cook pasta according to package directions for 8 minutes. Drain. Brown the meat in a large skillet until thoroughly cooked. Drain. Mix the pasta with the meat and red sauce. In a small bowl, mix the ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella, Parmesan and seasonings. Set aside. In a 13 x 9 x 2 pan, spoon in 1/2 the pasta mixture. Spread cheese mixture over the top. Add the remaining pasta and sauce. Top with the remaining mozzarella. Cover the pan loosely with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 5-7 minutes until hot and bubbly.