Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Baked Spaghetti

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:
  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add ground beef and cook - stirring occasionally - until it is brown and crumbly 
  2. Add garlic and stir until just fragrant (about 1 minute)
  3. 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*
  4. 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.
  5. Add 1/2 cup cooking liquid to sauce mixture.  Taste sauce and add extra seasonings.
  6. Toss spaghetti with sauce and then transfer to an oiled 9x13 baking dish.  
  7. Top with mozzarella and parmesan cheeses 
  8. 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.  

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