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Baked Spaghetti Casserole

Irresistible Baked Spaghetti Casserole: A Comforting Classic with a Twist!

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Looking for a hearty and satisfying dish that’s perfect for family dinners or potluck gatherings? Look no further than this Baked Spaghetti Casserole! With layers of pasta, savory sauce, creamy cheeses, and flavorful meat, this recipe takes traditional spaghetti to a whole new level. Plus, it’s easy to make and sure to please even the pickiest eaters.

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces spaghetti
  • 2 24-ounce jars spaghetti sauce or marinara sauce
  • 1 ¼ lbs. ground beef or sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 4 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup shredded provolone cheese
  • Chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • Chopped fresh basil

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray or butter.
  2. Cook the spaghetti according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, cook the ground beef or Italian sausage over medium heat until browned and cooked through. Drain any excess grease.
  4. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic to the skillet with the cooked meat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the spaghetti sauce or marinara sauce and simmer for an additional 5 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together.
  6. In a mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, ricotta cheese, egg, sour cream, and Italian seasoning. Mix until smooth and well combined.
  7. Spread half of the cooked spaghetti in the prepared baking dish. Top with half of the meat sauce mixture, then dollop half of the cheese mixture over the sauce and sprinkle with half of the shredded mozzarella and provolone cheeses.
  8. Repeat the layers with the remaining spaghetti, meat sauce, cheese mixture, and shredded cheeses.
  9. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
  10. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  11. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and basil before serving.

Cook Notes and Variations:

  • For a vegetarian version, omit the ground beef or sausage and double the amount of onions and garlic for extra flavor.
  • Feel free to add your favorite vegetables to the meat sauce mixture, such as diced bell peppers, mushrooms, or spinach.
  • Substitute different types of cheese to customize the flavor profile of the casserole. Try cheddar, fontina, or asiago for a delicious twist.
  • Make this dish ahead of time and refrigerate it overnight. Just pop it in the oven when you’re ready to bake, adding a few extra minutes to the cooking time.

Keto and Low-Carb Versions:

  • For a keto-friendly version, substitute spaghetti with spiralized zucchini or spaghetti squash.
  • Replace the traditional spaghetti sauce with a low-carb marinara sauce or make your own using fresh tomatoes, garlic, and herbs.
  • Use full-fat cream cheese, ricotta cheese, and sour cream to keep the dish keto-friendly.
  • Skip the breadcrumbs or flour-based thickeners in the sauce to reduce the carb content.

In conclusion, this Baked Spaghetti Casserole is a delicious and comforting dish that’s perfect for any occasion. Whether you’re feeding a crowd or simply craving a cozy meal at home, this recipe delivers on flavor and satisfaction. With its layers of pasta, savory sauce, and creamy cheeses, it’s sure to become a family favorite. So why not give it a try and enjoy a taste of comfort in every bite

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Q: Can I use different types of pasta for this recipe? A: Absolutely! While spaghetti works perfectly, you can experiment with other pasta shapes like penne, rigatoni, or even rotini for a fun twist. Just adjust the cooking time accordingly.

Q: Can I make this dish ahead of time? A: Yes! This Baked Spaghetti Casserole is a great make-ahead meal. You can assemble the casserole up to a day in advance, cover it tightly with foil or plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to bake. Simply increase the baking time slightly if baking from cold.

Q: Can I freeze leftovers? A: Definitely! This casserole freezes well. Once baked, let it cool completely, then portion it into individual servings or larger portions. Wrap tightly in aluminum foil or plastic wrap and store in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. To reheat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bake in a preheated oven until heated through.

Q: Can I add more vegetables to this dish? A: Absolutely! This recipe is versatile, and you can easily add extra veggies like bell peppers, zucchini, spinach, or mushrooms to the meat sauce for added flavor and nutrition. Just be sure to sauté them until tender before adding them to the casserole.

Q: Is this dish suitable for a crowd? A: Yes! This Baked Spaghetti Casserole is perfect for feeding a crowd. Simply double or triple the recipe as needed and bake in multiple baking dishes. It’s a great option for potlucks, parties, or family gatherings.

In conclusion, this Baked Spaghetti Casserole is not only delicious and easy to make but also versatile and perfect for any occasion. Whether you’re cooking for a weeknight dinner or a special gathering, this hearty and comforting dish is sure to impress. With its layers of pasta, flavorful meat sauce, and creamy cheeses, it’s a crowd-pleaser that will have everyone coming back for seconds. So gather your ingredients and give this recipe a try—you won’t be disappointed!

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