I'm a sucker for a good pasta dish. Especially one that is easy to make. The great thing about these types of meals is that they are tasty, filling, fairly inexpensive, can feed your whole family and they make great leftovers. And what's not to love about that? Now, y'all will surely notice that I'm not using the Ziti pasta with this. So maybe it should really be called Baked Penne. But I have always called it Baked Ziti no matter what kind of pasta I've used. So just forgive me for that little oversight, okay? I like the Penne pasta because it has those little ridges in it. And those little ridges are really good at hanging onto the pasta sauce. But if you prefer the Ziti pasta, then use that instead of the Penne. Or maybe you are able to find the Ziti with ridges in your local supermarket, then you could use that as well. It's a texture thing for me. Serve this up with some garlic bread and a side salad and you have a really great meal that everyone in your family is sure to gobble up!
1 pound of ground beef
2 cans or jars (26 oz.) of your favorite spaghetti sauce*
1 jar (16 oz.) alfredo sauce
1 box (1 lb.) penne pasta (or ziti or rigatoni)
½ yellow onion diced (optional)
1 bag (2 cups) shredded mozzarella cheese
(onion not pictured)
Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick spray. Prepare pasta according to directions. In a medium sauce pan, brown ground beef with onion (if using). After beef is brown and crumbled, drain excess grease. Put back in pot and pour in one jar of spaghetti sauce. Keep mixture on low until pasta is done. When pasta is finished, drain excess water from pasta. You want the pasta as dry as possible. Put pasta back in large pot (with heat off) and pour in jar of alfredo sauce. Combine until thoroughly coated.
Pour pasta mixture into bottom of 9x13 dish.
Cover pasta with spaghetti sauce mixture. Don’t put the pot that you used for the spaghetti sauce in with the dirty dishes yet. Keep that pot out and start heating up second jar of spaghetti sauce on low heat. Put a cover on it to keep warm until ziti is finished baking.
Sprinkle top with mozzarella cheese.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes. I like to spray the inside of my foil with nonstick spray so the cheese doesn't stick to it. Or you could use that new nonstick aluminum foil.
Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.
Let rest for about 5 minutes after taking out of oven. Serve portions onto plates, and pour some of the heated spaghetti sauce on top.
Cook’s Notes: The second jar of spaghetti sauce is optional in this. We really enjoy the additional spaghetti sauce with ours but it is not absolutely necessary. When I make this, I usually purchase the cans of Hunt’s Spaghetti Sauce because it is far cheaper than other spaghetti sauces and I can afford to splurge on the extra can.