Baked Spaghetti Marinara
This family-friendly classic makes Meatless Mondays a breeze!
There is nothing fancy about this simple yet satisfying dish, right down to the easy preparation. A quick and easy homemade tomato sauce makes it extra-special and super-scrumptious. A mix of grated Parmesan and chopped buffalo mozzarella renders the dish tender and cheesy. Chopped meatballs, sausage, or vegetables may be added for extra flavor and nutrition. Be sure not to overcook the pasta since it will continue to cook and soften while baking. Al dente rules the day.
Equipment: cutting board; chef’s knife; box grater; dry measuring cup; large sauté pan; stock pot or Dutch oven; strainer or colander; large mixing bowl; wooden spoon or spatula; casserole or baking dish; aluminum foil
1 pound spaghetti 1, 24-28 ounce can crushed Italian tomatoes
1, small yellow onion, finely diced 3 tablespoons olive oil 2 garlic cloves, finely minced 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1 teaspoon kosher salt ½ teaspoon black pepper 1 pound mozzarella cheese, cubed (1/4-inch) or grated 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
fresh basil (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. To prepare the sauce, heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and swirl to coat with olive oil. Sauté the onions until soft but taking on any color, for about five minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another 2-3 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes and stir well to combine. Stir in the oregano, salt, and pepper. Lower the heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Set aside.
“If you want to prepare this as a meat sauce, once the onions and garlic have cooked, add 1 pound of sweet Italian sausage (or hot if you can handle it!) meat sans the casings. Stir until the meat is cooked through and no longer pink. Then add the tomatoes and proceed according to the recipe.”
3. Cook the spaghetti to al dente according to the instructions on the package. Strain and rinse under cold water to prevent the noodles from sticking to one another. Shake off excess water and transfer the noodles to a mixing bowl.
4. Add the tomato sauce to the noodles and toss well to coat evenly. Add in mozzarella cheese and 2/3 cup Parmesan cheese and stir until evenly incorporated. Pour the mixture into a baking dish and sprinkle with remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan. Cover loosely with foil.
ILOC tip: The dish may be prepared in advance through Step 4 and refrigerated, but then it should be covered tightly in plastic until Step 5 at which point foil must replace the plastic for baking.
5. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until bubbling and cheese has melted.
6. Serve immediately.
Makes 6 servings.