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I’m kickin’ it old school today. I’m talking classic, blast from the past, down-home, spaghetti casserole. There’s nothing fancy about this recipe but it is one of the most family-friendly, crowd pleasing dishes in existence.
I think I was about 13 years old when I made my first attempt at spaghetti casserole and it was as delicious then as it is now. I’ve made some small, but important, changes to my recipe over the years that make it different than other popular versions I’ve seen. I think they also make it pretty darn amazing.
It’s Spring Break time for us here which means I’ve got a house full of college aged guys for the next week. Pasta dishes like this are perfect for times like this. It’s hearty and delicious and also reheats beautifully.
We start by cooking 12 ounces of spaghetti a couple of minutes shy of the package directions. If your package says to boil the pasta for 11 minutes, just let it go for 9.
The rich and delicious meaty sauce is a snap to put together. Lean ground beef, onion, garlic, jarred marinara sauce, a little water, some Italian seasoning, a touch of salt, and fresh ground pepper, to taste. Scroll down for the printable recipe below for the complete ingredient list and directions
While the meat sauce simmers, drain the cooked spaghetti and toss it well with a good drizzle of olive oil. The oil will coat the noodles and make them a bit easier to work with. Mix in 1 cup of ricotta cheese.
This step is one of those subtle differences I was referring to above. Coating the pasta in ricotta adds another layer of creamy, deliciousness that sets this casserole apart from others.
In goes a lightly beaten egg. The ricotta and egg will give some body and substance to the cooked pasta.
Work the egg and ricotta in to the cooked spaghetti till it is well incorporated.
The layering begins. First, spread half the ricotta coated spaghetti in the bottom of a 13″ x 9″ baking dish. Top the pasta with half the meat sauce.
Sprinkle half the shredded mozzarella and Parmesan over the top.
Repeat the layers with the remaining pasta and meat sauce…
…and the remaining cheese.
Coat the underside of a a piece of foil with non-stick cooking spray and place it over the dish, coated side down. This ensures that the melted cheese will stay on the casserole; not the foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, remove the foil and let it go another 5 or 10 minutes, till bubbly.
Add a big green salad and a loaf of French Bread and we have dinner!
Save this one to your list of recipes to bake and take to a school function, sports banquet, or potluck. I can pretty much guarantee you’ll be asked for the recipe and possibly hugged and kissed a couple of times.
Baked Spaghetti Casserole
- 12 ounces spaghetti
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1/2 cup diced white or yellow onion
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 24 ounce jar marinara sauce (meatless)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese shredded
- 1 cup grated or shaved Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Prepare spaghetti according to package directions; cooking about 2 minutes shy of recommended time.
- Meanwhile, cook ground beef in a large skillet, breaking it up with spoon as it cooks. When no pink remains, drain off grease. Return the pan to the heat and add onion and garlic. Cook and stir till veggies have softened. Add marinara sauce, 1/2 cup water, Italian seasoning, and salt to taste. Allow sauce to simmer for about 10 minutes.
- While sauce simmers, drain cooked spaghetti well, return to pan and toss with olive oil. Add ricotta and combine until all of the pasta is coated. Add lightly beaten egg and stir to combine.
- Layer half the spaghetti mixture in a 13" x 9" casserole dish. Top with half the meat sauce, and half the mozzarella and Parmesan. Repeat layers with remaining ingredients.
- Coat the underside of a piece of foil with non-stick cooking spray and cover the dish, coated side down. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 5 to 10 minutes till bubbly.