BAKED ZITI PASTA CASSEROLE
12 ounces ziti pasta
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
2 (15-oz.) cans tomato sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable cooking spray
1 (8-oz.) package shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Cook pasta in a Dutch oven according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, sauté onion in hot oil in large skillet over medium-high heat 4 to 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Add beef; cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until crumbled and no longer pink. Drain mixture, and return to skillet.
3. Stir tomato sauce, next 4 Ingredients, and 1 tsp. salt into meat mixture. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
4. Melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Whisk in flour, and cook, whisking constantly, 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk. Increase heat to medium, and cook, whisking constantly, 5 to 7 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. Stir in Parmesan cheese, pepper, and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt. Add sauce to pasta, stirring to coat.
5. Transfer pasta mixture to a lightly greased (with cooking spray) 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Top with beef mixture, mozzarella cheese, and breadcrumbs.
6. Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes or until mixture is bubbly and cheese is melted. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
MAKE IT AHEAD Fix and freeze this dish (unbaked) for a hands-off dinner. Let it stand 30 minutes before baking, and add 15 to 20 minutes in the oven.