Make Cheese Layer: Add cream cheese, sour cream and ricotta to a mixing bowl. Beat with electric mixers until smooth. Stir in garlic and basil.
Make Red Sauce: In a large bowl, combine both jars of pasta sauce, tomato sauce and water.
Assemble: Add 2 cups of sauce to the bottom of the slow cooker. Top with about ⅓ of the uncooked penne. Dot on half of the ricotta mixture and use a spoon to gently spread it out evenly. Top with 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese.
Add another 2 cups of sauce. Top with ⅓ of the uncooked penne. Add remaining ricotta mixture and spread. Sprinkle on the remaining 3/4 cup parmesan cheese. Add the remaining uncooked penne. Top with the remaining sauce. Make sure the ziti noodles are covered by the sauce so they cook appropriately. Top with mozzarella cheese.
Cook: Cover with lid and cook on HIGH for 2 - 2 1/2 hours, or LOW for 3 1/3 -4 hours, or until pasta is tender. Serve garnished with fresh basil, if desired.
Pasta: Penne pasta could also be substituted.To Add Meat: Add 1 pound cooked ground beef or ground sausage to the red sauce before layering.To Add Veggies: sautéed veggies, chopped small and layered over the red sauce would make a delicious addition. Try adding zucchini, spinach, bell pepper, onion, mushrooms.Make Ahead Instructions: The ricotta cheese mixture and the pasta sauce can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge in separate airtight containers until ready to assemble and cook.Freezing Instructions: Leftovers can be frozen in a freezer safe container for up to 2 months. Let thaw in the fridge completely before reheating. The pasta may be a little softer than when it was freshly made.For Oven Baked Ziti: find my recipe here.