1. Cook 1 pound ziti or penne pasta in salted water according to package instructions until just al dente then drain. (do not overcook since they will continue to cook in the oven).
2. In a deep pan or dutch oven, over medium-high heat, cook 1 pound ground beef and 1 chopped onion, breaking up the beef with a spatula, until beef is fully cooked through and onions are softened. it will take around 5-7 minutes.
3. Add 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper and saute for another minute.
4. Add 5 cups marinara sauce, bring to a simmer and continue cooking for 5 minutes then turn off the heat.
5. Spread a ladle of meat sauce over the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish.
6. Into the remaining sauce, add 10 chopped basil leaves and 15 oz ricotta cheese. add cooked pasta and stir just until they are well coated (you want to keep that ricotta texture)
7. Transfer half of the pasta to the casserole dish. top with 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese.
8. Add remaining pasta and top with remaining mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese.
9. Clear the edges of the pan so the cheese doesn’t burn onto the dish. bake at 350˚f for 25 minutes. broil for 1-2 minutes to brown the cheese. let it cool for 5 minutes then garnish with basil if desired and serve.
1. Pasta to be used in this recipe can either be ziti pasta or penne pasta.