Oven-baked Ziti with Three Cheeses

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Vegetarian-friendly meal that tastes even better the second day.

Preparation time: 35 mins.
Cooking time: 40 mins.

Difficulty: Easy - for beginners
Serves: 8


2 Tbl. olive oil
1 large shallot, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp. fennel seed
1/3 c tomato paste
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
1 c water
1 tsp dried oregano, crumbled or
2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano
1/2 c grated Parmesan
salt and pepper
1 15-oz container ricotta
8 oz. mozzarella, grated
1 egg
12 oz freshly cooked ziti or other tube


Heat oil in a large heavy saucepan over med-low heat. Add onion, garlic, and fennel seeds and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Mix in tomato paste and cook 1 minute. Add tomato sauce, water, oregano and sage. Simmer till mixture thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, about 10 mins. Stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 450. Butter 9x13-inch glass baking dish. In med. bowl combine ricotta cheese and egg. Reserve 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese for topping. Add remaining mozzarella to ricotta cheese mixture and blend. Season with salt and pepper.
Spread q/r of tomato sauce over bottom of prepared dish. Layer 1/3 of pasta over. Drop half of ricotta cheese mix over spoonfuls. Spread 1/4 c. sauce over. Repeat layering. Spread remaining sauce over and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover and bake 40 mins.


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