Hello again, my dear friends! I apologize for my absence these last couple of weeks, my birthday came and went and we were out of town and ate very poorly for a week; certainly not anything I deemed worthy of sharing. Mr. C, Baby C, and I had a lovely time spending my birthday with the in-laws and I got a few new lovelies for my kitchen: a large ovenproof skillet, a couple utensils, a beautiful wooden recipe box, and Mr. C surprised me with a copy of Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” I was very pleased! I read cook books like riveting novels, and this is a very good read!
I could go on and on, but I have this tasty casserole to share with you! A regular bowl of spaghetti is always delicious and easy to throw together, especially with store bought sauce (of course homemade would always win in a fair fight), but if you are looking for an upgrade on an old classic, you should give this dish a try! The end result is very comforting and satisfying and is a twist on your everyday bowl of spaghetti.
- 1 pound spaghetti, uncooked
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 1 (15 oz) container ricotta cheese
- 1 (15 oz) jar Alfredo sauce
- 1 (8 oz) package Kraft shredded Italian five cheese
- 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
- 1 pound ground beef, browned
- 1 (24 oz) jar spaghetti sauce
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cook spaghetti according to package directions, omitting the salt. Meanwhile, mix eggs, ricotta, Alfredo, shredded cheese, and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese in large bowl until blended well. Drain spaghetti and stir into cheese mixture; toss to evenly coat. Pour spaghetti mixture into a 9 x 13″ greased baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes. Then, remove the casserole from oven and let stand 10 minutes before cutting to serve. While the spaghetti is baking, brown the beef, and pour in spaghetti sauce. Drain the fat if you are not using lean meat. Serve creamy baked spaghetti topped with meat sauce and remaining Parmesan.
Here are our cast of characters! I used my everyday powdered Parmesan cheese, but if you have the good stuff I highly recommend that you use it. The better the ingredients, the better the outcome. Still, I was not disappointed even with my cheap Parmesan.
You are already probably versed with the in’s and out’s of cooking pasta, but just in case, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add your pasta. Normally, you would salt the water so that it will season the pasta as it cooks, but for this recipe omit the salt. Boil the spaghetti until al dente (“to the teeth” which means that your pasta is tender but still slightly chewy). Drain and set aside.
Grease a 9 x 13 ” baking dish and pour the spaghetti mixture into your dish and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. I covered my dish with aluminum foil for the first 20 minutes, then uncovered and let it bake for another 10 minutes to brown the casserole just a bit. Allow to set for 10 minutes before serving.
While the casserole is baking, make a simple meat sauce. All I did was brown a pound of ground beef, drained the fat, and poured in a jar of spaghetti sauce. Heat it through and keep warm until you are ready to serve. When it comes to choosing your spaghetti sauce, I say that you should use whatever is your favorite. Personally, I am not a fan of chunky spaghetti sauce, as chunks of cooked tomato are not appetizing to me. Don’t get me wrong, I can eat a raw tomato like an apple and smooth tomato sauce is delicious, but the texture of cooked tomatoes makes me cringe. If you prefer a chunky sauce, or no meat sauce at all, you can make it to suit your tastes.
Cut your portions of casserole and top with meat sauce. I served this with a colorful side salad. When cutting the serving sizes I made it into 6 large portions, but I found that this casserole was very filling and you could easily have cut it into 8 servings.
Verdict: As I said before, the end result of this casserole was very comforting and delicious. I would gladly make this again but in the future I may consider stirring spinach into the spaghetti and cheese mixture before baking so that it is an all-in-one meal. Additionally, this makes a great freezer meal! I took the leftovers and portioned them into freezer safe containers, froze them, and reheated whenever I needed a quick meal. The casserole held up nicely even with the meat sauce topping. Very good!