Haters are going to hate, and purists are going to balk, but there is nothing wrong with using a pre-made pasta sauce. If you don’t have an entire day to let a red sauce simmer, popping open some ragu and letting it mingle with garlic, onion, ground beef and herbs is a really good idea. If you’re like JaQuan and know how to make it really good, you add a little sugar.

Growing up, my best friend’s Italian-American grandma made her pasta sauce with a few tablespoons of sugar. It's divisive, I know. Most prefer it without, but adding a little sugar makes for a totally delicious and indulgent pasta. I like to think of it as entirely it's own sect of sauce. Eating it for lunch really brought me back to elementary school and made me smile. It’s sweet, tomato-y, and beefy.

JaQuan’s baked Ziti was a true hit in the factory. Also, everyone is out-of-office on vacation this week, so those of us holding down the fort got major second helpings— a blessing. Baked in a big tray with bubbling mozzarella and ricotta on top, it was hearty and filling. He says that he makes this a lot for his lady and his mother, and that it’s one of their faves. Not surprised, it’s a solid dish.

JaQuan's Baked Ziti

  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • one onion
  • 2 sbp. oil
  • 1 package of ground beef
  • 1 jar of pasta sauce (JaQuan uses Ragu)
  • 2 tbsp. Sugar
  • 1 box ziti
  • mozzarella
  • ricotta
  • salt
  • herb seasoning


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In sauce pot, sautee garlic and onions in oil. Add beef and brown.
  2. Season with salt, sugar, and herbs. Add pre-made pasta sauce. Let simmer.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt generously and add pasta. Boil according to the box and then a few minutes less! Drain once done.
  4. In an 8x8 baking tray, spoon down one layer of sauce, one layer of pasta, and one layer of cheese. Repeat until finished!
  5. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until cheese bubbles and browns.


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