Spring is here and I know it's not exactly the time to start indulging in a lot of pasta because "getting our summer body ready" season is ALSO herrrrrreeeeee. But I would like to point out that if you must eat pasta during this time (which is something that I feel like I must do), then this should be your first choice. It's not as heavy as you might think. I also really like to take this to work because it fills me up sufficiently for lunch and I seldom feel the need to eat a whole chocolate bar in the afternoon. Not that I would ever eat a whole chocolate bar in the afternoon. I definitely have not. Not at all.
So anywho, I'm throwing you some pasta goodness with this here baked dish. I've made baked ziti before, but not quite like this. Since this pasta is pretty thin, the cheese and sauce was incorporated nicely into each and every bite. I may always need to eat my spaghetti and meat sauce in a baked form from now on!
Baked Spaghetti & Meat Sauce
makes 6-8 servings
- 1 lb spaghetti
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/2 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- pinch red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 4 cups marinara sauce
- 1 cup + 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella, separated
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- salt & freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- basil, julienned, for topping
- cooking spray
1) Preheat oven to 350F.
2) Use the cooking spray to prepare a 9 x 13 baking dish. Set aside.
3) Drizzle the olive oil into a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until translucent.
4) Add the ground beef to the pan and allow to cook through for ~5 minutes. Use a spoon or spatula to break up the meat as it cooks.
5) Sprinkle the garlic, red pepper flakes, and oregano to the pan and allow to cook for 2 minutes.
6) Slowly pour in the marinara sauce and allow the mixture to cook for 10-15 minutes.
7) In the meantime, boil the water in a large pot over high heat. Cook the spaghetti according to the instructions on the package. Once cooked, drain the pasta and add to the saucepan with the meat mixture. Stir together until the pasta is fully coated in sauce. Add salt or pepper to taste, keeping in mind that extra cheese will be added in the next step.
8) Move half of the pasta to the baking dish. Use a large fork to twirl the pasta into 6 mounds. Sprinkle the pasta with 1/2 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.
9) Repeat the previous step with the remainder of the pasta and sauce, adding another 1/2 cup of mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese on top.
10) Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Sprinkle another 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella on top of the pasta. Return to the oven until the cheese is melted, another 5-10 minutes.
11) Top with basil, oregano, and freshly cracked black pepper before serving warm.
--recipe slightly adapted from Shutterbean