Eat light today, folks, because it’s time to indulge in that favorite Italian carb: pasta.
Celebrated annually on Oct. 17, National Pasta Day reminds us that it’s OK on occasion to start the day off with a creamy bowl of elbow mac and cheese and continue the day eating our way through the variety of pasta shapes and dishes.
Just be sure to end with pie – spaghetti pie, that is, as it is a fun spin on the classic dish full of all your favorite spaghetti flavors in a pie-shaped serving.
Spaghetti pie starts with a spaghetti noodle “crust” that’s made of noodles tossed in eggs, Parmesan and Italian seasoning. The noodle mixture is poured and shaped into a greased springform pan.
It’s then slathered with a layer of parsley-speckled ricotta, then filled with a rich, meaty tomato sauce and heads to the oven to bake before being topped off with a generous sprinkle of mozzarella that’s broiled to a bubbly golden brown.
Served alone or with a side salad and toasted garlic bread, it’s a hearty and delicious meal sure to please kids and adults alike, and the variations on this dish are endless. The ricotta can be swapped for cottage cheese, or try a mixture of both.
Veggies, such as bell peppers, mushrooms, zucchini or carrots, can be added into the sauce. And ground turkey, sausage or chicken can be used instead of beef.
You also can make a chicken Alfredo version using fettuccine noodles, a spinach-ricotta spread and chicken and mushroom Alfredo sauce filling. This is actually next on my list to try.
If you don’t have a springform pan, a pie pan works fine. And to feed a crowd, this recipe can be doubled and made in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. It also freezes well. Just skip the baking, wrap tightly in foil and place in the freezer.
When ready to use, bake at 350 degrees, covered, for about 60 minutes or until heated through. Then remove the foil and broil the cheese until browned.
Adapted from delish.com.
8 ounces spaghetti
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, divided
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground beef
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups marinara or your favorite sauce
1 cup ricotta
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped and divided
1 cup shredded mozzarella
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8- to 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the spaghetti for 3 minutes less than the package instructs.
Drain the noodles, then place the noodles in a large bowl. Add in the beaten eggs, 1/4 cup of Parmesan and Italian seasoning and toss to coat.
Pour into the prepared springform pan and form a crust.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic and ground beef, breaking up the meat and stirring until cooked through.
Season with salt and pepper. Stir in marinara and continue cooking until heated through.
Combine ricotta with 1/8 cup chopped parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Spread the ricotta mixture over the spaghetti crust, then top with meat sauce.
Bake for 20 minutes, then top with mozzarella and remaining Parmesan and broil until cheese is melted and golden.
Let cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan, then garnish with remaining parsley before serving.
Audrey Alfaro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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