Baked Penne

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1 sweet onion, diced5 tbsp butter*
1 can peeled San Marzano tomatoes
1 lb ground beef
sprigs of basil (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
1 box penne pasta
8 oz ricotta cheese
1 c shredded cheddar
1 egg

Dice the onion finely. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pot and saute the onion until translucent and lightly colored. Add the can of tomatoes (and basil, if you’re using it) and simmer over low heat for at least 45 minutes, if not longer. It gets sweeter and more delicious the longer you cook it.

Meanwhile, saute the beef until fully cooked and drain. Add to the sauce, mix well, and set aside. Boil the pasta a few minutes shorter than the cooking time (10 minutes for me, while the box called for 12-13 minutes) and drain. Mix with the sauce.

Also meanwhile, mix the cheeses and egg until combined. Grease a large** baking dish and pour the pasta and sauce in. Spoon the cheese mixture over the top and spread evenly. Bake for 45 minutes at 350, then let rest for at least 10 minutes before serving. I know you want to eat it now, but it’s very, very hot, so wait. This makes a truly obscene amount of food, so feel free to split it into two dishes and freeze one to bake later or halve the recipe.

*I know, you’re thinking that that’s a grotesque amount of butter, but it gives the sauce such a delicious richness that counterbalances the acidity of the tomatoes so nicely, and since you’re draining the beef, this is the only fat aside from the cheese. Besides, not everything I make has to be super, super healthy, right?
Fine, you can use a small amount of olive oil instead, but I cannot promise the delicious results.

**I used my 8×8 pan, and about 2/3 of the pasta and meat fit in, so the rest went in a small casserole dish for later. I think one of those 9×13 pans would fit it all, though.

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