This pasta bake has all the components of traditional lasagna: noodles, tomato sauce, meat, onions, garlic, ricotta and mozzarella cheese. Instead of layering, it's all just tossed together and sprinkled with cheese, a much easier and quicker dish.
One night this Fall I was eating dinner with my then-4 year old nephew and he was a little wary of it, as 4 year olds tend to be. We described it to him as a combination of pizza and lasagna. He said, I don't know if I like pizzagna, and then ate most of it.
Not-Lasagna Pasta Bake or Pizzagna
1 pound ground turkey, chicken or beef - I used ground turkey
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
2 cups uncooked pasta (I used rotini)
1/4-1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2-1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
In a large saute pan or soup pot (something with at least 2 inch sides), heat a little olive oil and brown the ground meat. When browned, transfer the meat to a colander to drain and wipe out the pan (no need to fully wash it, it's all going back in eventually).
Heat a Tablespoon of olive oil in the pan over medium heat and add the onion and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic, cook one minute more. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and spices and allow to simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavors.
Bring your water to a boil, add the pasta and cook until just barely al dente. You'll be baking the final dish, so the pasta will continue to cook in the sauce.
Stir ground meat back into the tomato sauce, and add the pasta when ready.
Stir in ricotta cheese and pour into a baking dish.
Top with mozzarella cheese and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.