Lazy Lasagna Casserole
10 ounces short pasta like penne, ziti, or medium shells
1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup diced onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic, divided
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper divided
25 ounces marinara sauce
1/4 cup water
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
3 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes, or 1 tablespoon fresh
fresh basil, optional for garnish
Cook the pasta one minute shy of the package directions. Drain well and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven, cook beef, onion, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Drain the grease and return the pan to the heat. Sprinkle with Italian Seasoning, salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring, for a minute or two. Add the marinara and water and let it simmer for a couple of minutes until warmed through. Stir in the cooked pasta, remove from the heat and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 13- x 9-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
Add ricotta and egg to a large mixing bowl and stir until smooth. Add half of the shredded mozzarella, remaining garlic, half of the Parmesan cheese, parsley and remaining pepper.
Add half of the beef/pasta mixture to the prepared baking dish. Spoon dollops of the ricotta mixture evenly over the top. Top with remaining beef/pasta mixture, spreading it out with the back of a spoon to cover the creamy layer.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, 5 to 10 minutes longer or until bubbly and cheese is melted. Garnish with fresh basil and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.