Sunday, October 17, 2010

Not Your Average Baked Spaghetti

Jesse asked me to make baked spaghetti for our Friday evening get together with friends. Ok, that’s only partially true. Jesse has been asking me on a semi-regular basis to make baked spaghetti since we got married.

I’ve been beating around the bush trying to escape this task for years. The only baked spaghetti I ever knew were dried out noodles with sickeningly sweet Ragu that always arrived with the traditional potluck fair.

I called Julie and warned her Jesse had requested baked spaghetti. She tried to be kind, but I don’t think her experiences have been much better. I couldn’t imagine serving my poor friends a meal they dreaded. They deserved something they could at least choke down. So, I sucked it up and gave this recipe some thought and attention. The results were much better than I expected, and most certainly not as bad as my worst fears.

Or perhaps, everyone was just being polite and ate it anyway! Hey, it could happen.

Zesty Crockpot Marinara Sauce

Printer Version
This marinara cooks for about 10 hours, so it’s often easier to make this the day before you’ll be using it for baked spaghetti.

28 ounce can crushed tomatoes in rich puree

29 ounce can no sugar tomato sauce

6 ounce can tomato paste

1 cup water

1/2 cup good red wine

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, crushed and finely minced or pressed through a garlic press

2 to 3 teaspoons sugar, to taste

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons onion powder

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 large bay leaf or two small

Stir the ingredients together in a large Crockpot. Cook on low for 10 to 12 hours, stirring occasionally.

Not Your Average Baked Spaghetti
Printer Version
You’ll need a big 10” x 15” baking dish for this recipe, if you don’t have one you can break it up into two smaller pans. For a vegetarian version, leave out the sausage and toss the spaghetti with the extra marinara sauce before layering it into the bottom.

4 cups Crockpot Marinara Sauce, made the day before
1 pound hot Italian sausage
1 pound spaghetti noodles, broken in half
1/2 cup reserved pasta water
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
32 ounce container whole milk ricotta
2 cups shredded Parmesan Reggiano, divided in half
2 cups shredded mozzarella

1. Brown the sausage in a skillet breaking it up well. Drain off the fat and set aside. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and get out a 10”x 15” baking dish.

2. Boil the spaghetti to al dente according to package directions in heavily salted water. Toward the end of cooking time reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water. Drain the spaghetti and toss with butter and olive oil. At this point you can also toss the spaghetti with the leftover sauce if preferred. Place the noodles in the baking dish.

3. In a bowl, mix the ricotta with the reserved pasta water. Place the sausage on top of the noodles and spread the ricotta over everything.

4. Top ricotta with 1 cup Parmesan Reggiano. Spread 4 cups of sauce over the cheese and top with mozzarella and the remaining Parmesan.

5. Bake 35 to 40 minutes until the cheese is golden brown and the sides are bubbly. Rest for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with the extra sauce if desired.

Recipes & photograph by Laura Flowers.


Krysta said...


mamtc said...

looks pretty and sure it came out well I guess!

The Cooking Photographer said...

Thanks! It came out surprisingly well. The noodles were nice and moist and the sauce was good. It was even tasty the next day. I guess my baked spaghetti phobia was without merit.


Joanne said...

any sauce that cooks for ten hours is INFINITELY better than ragu! Way to turn this traditional horror into a dish that people can actually enjoy.

Monet said...

So funny...but as I was reading your post, Ryan peeked over, and exclaimed, "Can you please make that for me!" Something about boys and baked spaghetti. I must say that this does look mighty delicious though. I want to make it too! Thanks for sharing, Laura.

notyet100 said...

even i luv baked sphagetti,..

Anonymous said...

I don't think they were just being nice, it sounds really good. Not the usual... i am saving this one, great meal for us!

kindred spirit said...

oh boy! my kids will looove this!

Susi's Kochen und Backen said...

I don't think I've ever had baked Spaghetti. I've seen it at various potlucks but it usually looks like someone had already eaten it LOL However, I could be convinced with your version to give it a try and I'm pretty sure my 3 boys will love it!

VegeCooking Club said...

I have a strange feeling your baked spaghetti rocked.

princessapr said...

It looks great! My sister does her leftover spaghetti and sauce (and veggies and cheese) in a cast iron skillet on the stove and then bakes until firm. It sets it and then gets a nice crust. It's her leftover meal where she just throws everything in a pan. The kids loved it, and it worked as a nice side for me. This one looks more like a casserole. I'll have to try it!


Levi said...

Looks yummy but too much work (dammit!)

The Cooking Photographer said...

Lol Janell! It's not much work, but a heck of a lot of time.

If you use a couple jars of good quality sauce it would be a huge shortcut.


Unknown said...

Yummy! My daughter would love this.

scrambledhenfruit said...

My boys have always loved baked spaghetti, especially with lots of cheese. That marinara must make the house smell lovely- it would be a great Saturday sauce for me. :)

Levi said...

Do you recommend any "good quality sauce" out of a jar? I have yet to find one though I'm not usually looking. I'd be willing to pay more for a decent (good quality) sauce though. Would make preparing this much easier.

I used to make one of those Bolognese-type recipes that I got from my mother in law though it's been years. It would cook all day and then taste a bit like heaven (though more heavenly if she cooked it than if I cooked it).

The Cooking Photographer said...

Hi Janell,

I think the Lucini sauces are amazing. I used to get them at Costco for about $4.50 a jar. Sadly, they don't carry them anymore. I found them at my local Co-Op for $9.00 a jar and my brain about exploded.

If you can find them cheaper, or you're ok with paying a bit more they are worth it.


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