Pasta al Forno (or baked ziti as many call it) is a classic Italian dinner that is perfect for a cozy family gathering!
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat and bring a large pot of hot water to a boil and salt the water liberally once boiling.
Once heated add onions and a garlic to the pan with the oil and saute stirring often for 2-3 minutes stirring often to soften it- be careful not to burn the garlic.
Add ground beef and saute until brown, using a wooden spoon to break it up, around 5 minutes. Drain if needed.
Add 2 cans Tuttorosso Crushed Tomatoes Chunky with Basil, baking soda, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes.
While sauce simmers, boil ziti 3 minutes less than the package directions for al dente and drain. Immediately return to the pot.
Place a couple spoonfuls of sauce at the bottom of a 9" x 13" pan.
Mix 3/4 of the sauce with the pasta until well combined. If using ricotta, mix all ricotta mixture ingredients in a medium bowl.
Place 1/2 the pasta mixture into the 9" x 13" baking pan. If using ricotta, add dollops of ricotta mixture evenly over the top of the pasta.
Layer the remaining pasta evenly over the pan and top with remaining sauce.
Cover and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and to with mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. Bake uncovered for another 20-30 minutes or until hot and bubble. Serve immediately.