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Ah, baked spaghetti. A casserole classic that brings comfort and joy to tables everywhere. But achieving that perfect balance of cheesy goodness and al dente noodles can be tricky. Fear not, fellow food enthusiasts! This guide will walk you through everything you need to know to create a baked spaghetti masterpiece, from gathering ingredients to savoring the last bite.

Ingredients (serves 6-8)

Baked Spaghetti
Baked Spaghetti

1 pound ground beef (or your preferred protein substitute)

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 green bell peppers, diced (optional)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pound box of spaghetti noodles
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 (15-ounce) container shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

  • Directions

    1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.
    2. Brown the ground beef: In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the ground beef until browned, breaking it up with a spoon. Drain any excess grease.
    3. Sauté the vegetables: Add the onion and bell peppers (if using) to the skillet and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for an additional minute until fragrant.
    4. Simmer the sauce: Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes (if using), salt, and pepper to the skillet. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    5. Cook the spaghetti: While the sauce simmers, cook the spaghetti according to package directions, one minute less than al dente. Drain and set aside.
    6. Assemble the casserole: In a large bowl, combine the cooked spaghetti, ricotta cheese, and 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Pour half of the meat sauce into the prepared baking dish. Top with the spaghetti mixture, then spread the remaining meat sauce over the top. Sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese (if using).
    7. Bake: Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Let cool slightly before serving.

    Nutrition Facts (per serving)

    This is an approximate estimation and may vary depending on the specific ingredients used.

    Calories: 600-700

  • Fat: 30-40g
  • Saturated Fat: 15-20g
  • Cholesterol: 70mg
  • Sodium: 800mg
  • Carbohydrates: 60-70g
  • Fiber: 5-7g
  • Protein: 30-40g

  • Conclusion

    Baked spaghetti is a crowd-pleasing dish that’s perfect for weeknight dinners, potlucks, or feeding a hungry family. With this guide, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a baked spaghetti master. Now, grab your fork and dig in!

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1. Can I use a different type of protein?

    Absolutely! Ground turkey, Italian sausage, or even a vegetarian crumb option would all be delicious alternatives to ground beef.

    2. How can I make this dish ahead of time?

    Assemble the casserole completely and cover it tightly with foil. Refrigerate for up to 24 hours. When ready to bake, preheat the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until heated through.

    3. What if I don’t have ricotta cheese?

    Cottage cheese or a mixture of sour cream and cream cheese can be substituted for ricotta cheese in a pinch.

    4. How can I make this dish gluten-free?

    Use gluten-free noodles and double-check that all other ingredients are gluten-free certified.

    5. What can I serve with baked spaghetti?

    A simple side salad, garlic bread, or roasted vegetables would all be perfect complements to baked spaghetti.