Spaghetti and meat sauce seems to be a staple in so many houses. Growing up, this was a meal that was often on the table with a side of salad and bread. Of course, I was the picky eater of the family so I just ate my spaghetti (or any pasta for that matter) plain with butter! Now that my taste buds have expanded - and I am determined to expose my kids to food prepared lots of different ways - I decided to take the old dinner stand-by and turn it into a casserole!
Here's What You Need to Make the Baked Spaghetti:
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 can (28 oz) San Marzano Tomatoes
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- pinch of dried oregano
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1 pound (16 oz) whole wheat spaghetti
- 1/2 cup cooking water from the pasta
- 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Now Let's Make the Baked Spaghetti:
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add ground beef and cook - stirring occasionally - until it is brown and crumbly
- Add garlic and stir until just fragrant (about 1 minute)
- Add the can of San Marzano Tomatoes, salt, pepper, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Bring sauce to a simmer and allow to cook for at least 10-20 minutes (longer if you can). Stir occasionally, breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon or a potato masher - I like my sauce to have texture like in the picture*
- While your sauce simmers, cook the whole wheat spaghetti in a large pot of boiling water for about 5-7 minutes (do not cook all the way). Reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid before draining pasta.
- Add 1/2 cup cooking liquid to sauce mixture. Taste sauce and add extra seasonings.
- Toss spaghetti with sauce and then transfer to an oiled 9x13 baking dish.
- Top with mozzarella and parmesan cheeses
- Bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, until the casserole edges are nice and browned
*If you do not like chunks of tomato you can put the entire contents of the can of San Marzano Tomatoes into a blender to puree until smooth before cooking it. You can also substitute a jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce in place.