Baked Spaghetti is an old favorite of ours which goes back to the years when I was bringing up a large family! When you have five children, three of whom are boys, dishes like this always come in handy! With its rich and meaty sauce, layered with spaghetti and combined with a creamy cheese layer, along with a crisp cheesy topping, it was often requested through the years!
Baked Spaghetti is not only delicious but economical and hearty. It is also the perfect make-ahead meal. You can also break it down into two casseroles, serving one on the day and freezing one for later on. It’s an immensely popular dish at Potluck suppers and get-togethers as well! This fabulously tasty casserole is a real winning dish on many levels!
WHAT TO YOU NEED TO MAKE BAKED SPAGHETTI
If you have never cooked a Baked Spaghetti casserole before, this is a good basic recipe to hone your skills on. As written it is delicious, but there is room for play so that you can adapt it to your own individual tastes.
|1 pound of dry spaghetti|
|1 pound extra lean ground beef|
|1 medium onion, peeled and chopped|
|1 (24-oz) jar of marinara sauce|
|½ tsp seasoned salt|
|2 large free range eggs|
|1/3 cup grated Parmesan Cheese|
|5 TBS butter, melted|
|2 cups cottage cheese|
|4 cups grated mozzarella cheese|
|Chopped fresh flat leaf parsley and basil to garnish (optional)|
HINTS AND TIPS TO MAKE BAKED SPAGHETTI
If you follow my easy hints and tips there is no reason why your casserole can’t be the best baked spaghetti ever!
- Read through the recipe several times to familiarise yourself with any ingredients needed, cooking equipment or methods you will need to use.
- Assemble all of your ingredients before you begin. This will help to ensure you don’t leave out anything integral to the success of the recipe.
- Cook your spaghetti noodles in a large pot filled with plenty of lightly salted boiling water. Make sure that there is plenty of room for your spaghetti to move around in the pot and that the water is at a full boil before adding the spaghetti.
- Because it will cook more in the oven make sure your spaghetti is cooked to al dente or at least one minute shorter than the package directions suggest. This will make sure your spaghetti is not soggy or mushy.
- I like to use extra lean ground steak for the best flavour in my sauce. It contains very little fat. You can also use Italian sausage, ground turkey, ground tofu, or chopped mushrooms rather than the ground steak if you wish.
- Make sure you brown your beef really well. You don’t want any pink to remain and if the meat has started to caramelise a bit this will also add extra flavour to your sauce.
- Use the best marinara sauce that your money can buy. Since this sauce will form the basis of your casserole, make sure it is one which your family really enjoys with plenty of flavours.
- Grate your own Parmesan Cheese for this recipe. DON’T use the cheese from the green can! Please. Please. Please. For the best flavour use real Parmesan cheese and grate it yourself.
- I use only large free-range eggs and real butter. You always get what you pay for.
- If you are not fond of cottage cheese, you can use ricotta cheese.
- Don’t be afraid to add more marinara sauce to your meat sauce if you think your sauce is too dry. If you are really feeling flush you can add a splash of red wine for even more flavour. You don’t want your casserole to be soupy, but you don’t want it to be overly dry either.
- Season, season, season. I like to sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper on each layer. Nobody wants a bland casserole.
HOW TO MAKE BAKED SPAGHETTI
You will want your onion finely chopped for this. Remove both the root and blossom end of the onion and cut the onion in half lengthwise. Remove the peel and discard. Place cut side down on a cutting board and, using a sharp knife, make ¼ inch wide cuts along the length of the onion from blossom to the root end. Turn and make ¼ inch wide cuts across the width of the onion. You now have a perfect ¼-inch dice.
Cook the spaghetti to al dente, according to the package directions, in a large pot of lightly salted boiling water. Drain well, rinse and drain again.
While the spaghetti is cooking, crumble the ground beef into a skillet along with the onion, adding a bit of oil if you have to in order to keep it from sticking. Scramble fry until nicely browned and no longer pink. Stir in the marinara sauce and seasoning salt. Set aside.
Grate your Parmesan cheese. I use a fine holed Micro-plane grater to do this. It is perfectly acceptable to use already grated Mozzarella for this casserole.
Whisk the Parmesan cheese and eggs together with the butter in a large bowl. Add the spaghetti, tossing to coat it well.
Preheat the oven to 350*F. Butter a 13 X 9-inch baking dish.
Place half of the spaghetti mixture into the buttered baking dish. Top with half the cottage cheese, meat sauce and mozzarella cheese. Repeat the layers.
Cover tightly with a sheet of buttered aluminium foil. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake for a further 20 to 25 minutes, until bubbling and the cheese has melted.
Sprinkle with the fresh herbs to serve.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH BAKED SPAGHETTI
This is a very hearty casserole so you will want to keep any sides on the lighter side, if possible. One thing which goes very well is a nice mixed salad of greens and crisp vegetables. Cucumber, tomatoes, radishes, chopped green onions, and crisp lettuce such as romaine work very well. Serve with a spicy Italian dressing.
Don’t forget some kind of crusty roll or slices of a crusty loaf for mopping up all of that luscious sauce. If you are really feeling keen you can make quick and easy garlic bread by brushing or drizzling slices of Italian bread with a good Garlic Italian salad dressing, sprinkling with some grated Parmesan and toasting them in a hot oven!
You won’t be wanting anything heavy for dessert after this belly pleaser! Dishes of a cold Italian gelato or a fruit sorbet (Lemon is very refreshing) with some crisp wafer cookies would be perfect!
Doesn’t that look delicious! Just look at that meaty sauce and that oozing cheese! Fabulously tasty!
Any leftovers should be refrigerated as soon as possible after dinner. Wrap them up and store them in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, but no longer. My children always loved it when I fried the leftovers up in a skillet. Just heat a knob of butter, dump in the leftovers and scramble fry until completely heated through.
If you have divided it into two casseroles, only bake one. Wrap the other one up airtight and freeze for up to three months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before baking as above. Take out of the fridge half an hour prior to baking.
Hearty, family-friendly, economical, and incredibly delicious Baked Spaghetti is destined to become a family favorite in your house as well. Your family will probably want you to make this for them at least once every couple of weeks, if not more often! With its ease of preparation, lush cheesy layers, crisp cheese topping, and rich meaty filling, your family will surely be requesting second helpings! I guarantee it!
- 1 pound of dry spaghetti
- 1 pound extra lean ground beef
- 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 (24-oz) jar of marinara sauce
- ½ tsp seasoned salt
- 2 large free range eggs
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
- 5 TBS butter, melted
- 2 cups cottage cheese
- 4 cups grated mozzarella cheese
- Chopped fresh flat leaf parsley and basil to garnish (optional)
- Cook the spaghetti to al dente, according to the package directions, in a large pot of lightly salted boiling water. Drain well, rinse and drain again.
- While the spaghetti is cooking, crumble the ground beef into a skillet along with the onion, adding a bit of oil if you have to in order to keep it from sticking. Scramble fry until nicely browned and no longer pink. Stir in the marinara sauce and seasoning salt. Set aside.
- Whisk the Parmesan cheese and eggs together with the butter in a large bowl. Add the spaghetti, tossing to coat it well.
- Preheat the oven to 350*F. Butter a 13 X 9-inch baking dish.
- Place half of the spaghetti mixture into the buttered baking dish. Top with half the cottage cheese, meat sauce and mozzarella cheese. Repeat the layers.
- Cover tightly with a sheet of buttered aluminium foil. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake for a further 20 to 25 minutes, until bubbling and the cheese has melted.
- Sprinkle with the fresh herbs to serve.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 651
Marie Rayner is a retired Chef, freelance writer, recipe developer, food blogger, and Cookbook author. She makes her home in Chester, UK, where she lives with her husband, Todd, and their much beloved English Cocker, Mitzie. Her motto is “Life is far too short to eat bad food,” and her goal is to share delicious and easy recipes which anyone can enjoy and cook in the comfort of their own home.