My Baked Penne Pasta

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Next time you make Meat Sauce, make some extra for this easy weeknight supper. You can also just brown up a pound of ground beef or sausage to doctor up a large jar of marinara sauce. The diced mozzarella that is mixed into the sauced penne gives you a cheesy surprise.

12 oz penne pasta, (3 cups uncooked)
4 cups Meat Sauce
1 8 oz block mozzarella cheese, divided
2 cups Fresh Ricotta Cheese
2 extra large eggs
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly mist a 2 to 3 quart baking dish with cooking spray.
2. In a large pot of salted water, cook the penne for 1 minute less than the directions. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water. Drain the penne and return to the pan.
3. While the penne is cooking, gently heat the meat sauce until it is warm, but not hot. Stir 2 cups of the sauce into the penne along with 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
4. Allow the mixture to cool slightly while you dice half of the cheese into 1/2 inch pieces, then quickly stir the cheese into the penne.
5. In a bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, eggs, basil, oregano, and Parmesan cheese.
6. Pour the half of the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish and dollop on the ricotta mixture. Pour in the remaining pasta, top with the remaining meat sauce, cover, and bake 30 minutes.
7. While the casserole is baking, shred the remaining cheese.
8. Remove the casserole from the oven and check the moisture. If the casserole seems dry, drizzle the remaining 1/2 cup of reserved pasta water over the top, cover, and return to the oven for 10 minutes more.
9. Top the casserole with the shredded mozzarella cheese and continue baking, uncovered, until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown, about 15 minutes.
10. Let stand a few minutes before serving.

Servings: 6