Baked Ziti with Tomatoes and Mozzarella

After watching this and then reading this, I decided that I would try and make some changes in our family dinners seeing that my take on food has forever changed. So, I made this last week and ate it for no less than 6 meals in a row- it was that satisfying and delicious. You have got to try it.

Baked Ziti with Tomatoes and Mozzarella
Modified from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

1 Tbs. Olive Oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
2 Tbs. minced fresh basil (fresh is a must!)
1 lb. ziti or penne (I used Barilla Plus penne)
8 oz. mozzarella, shredded (2 c.)
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 400 F. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot for the pasta. Meanwhile, cook the oil and garlic in a skillet over medium heat, stirring often until the garlic is fragrant but not browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, with their juice. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Stir in the basil and salt. (You can add 1/4 tsp. sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes here, but I didn't use it and it still tasted great). When the pasta water is boiling, stir in 1 Tbs. salt and pasta. Cook until almost tender, but still with a bite. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, drain the ziti, and return to pot. Add tomato sauce and pasta water, as needed, to loosen the sauce. Spread half the pasta in an oiled 9X13 baking dish. Sprinkle with half the mozzarella and half of the parmesan cheese. Repeat. Sprinkle fresh basil on top, if desired.

Bake until cheeses turn golden brown, about 20 minutes. Enjoy!