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Baked Ziti With Pesto

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½ pound ziti pasta

1 ½ tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree

¼ tsp salt

1 bay leaf

½ tsp fresh-ground black pepper

1 cup low fat ricotta cheese

1 ½ cups grated mozzarella cheese

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

¼ cup basil pesto

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8-by-8 inch baking dish with non-stick spray. In a large pot of boiling water, cook the pasta for 7 minutes. It will be partially cooked. Drain. Rinse with cold water and drain again thoroughly.

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, salt, and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer over moderate heat and cook until very thick, about 10 minutes. Stir in ¼ tsp pepper. Remove bay leaf.

In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella, about half the parmesan, the pesto, and the remaining pepper.

Put half of the cooked pasta into the prepared baking dish and top with about 1/3 of the tomato sauce. Spread the ricotta mixture on the sauce in an even layer. Cover with the remaining pasta and then remaining sauce. Top with the remaining mozzarella and the remaining parmesan. Drizzle with oil. Bake until bubbling, about 30 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes before cutting.

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