Pasta is one of those foods that’s always comforting, and always welcome at the dinner table. And, of all the pastas spaghetti is probably the most beloved. While it’s hard not to occasionally have some fun eating it there’s no denying that it can be a bit messy.
It’s one of the reasons that I love baked spaghetti so much. This wonderful dish is baked in the oven and then you slice it like a pie, meaning that instead of long and hard-to-manage noodles you end up with these short pieces that have been baked to perfection in a tasty sauce of San Marzano tomatoes.
When it comes to making a pasta sauce of the red variety there’s no doubt in my mind that homemade is heaps better and it’s not hard to do at all. The first secret to a sauce with tons of flavor is to use whole, canned San Marzano tomatoes. For years I rejected the notion that these slightly-more-expensive tomatoes could be noticeably tastier, but they really do add a new dimension to your dishes.
In my experience it’s like the difference between Roma tomatoes and heirloom varieties. They both taste good, but heirloom tomatoes often have a more intense and interesting flavor. And, another trick to a great sauce is to always start with canned whole tomatoes and crush them by hand (and use the juice they come in as well).
Because you’re building the sauce from scratch you’ll want make sure you’ve added enough salt and pepper to properly season a pound each of beef and spaghetti. Herbs are great, but the salt and pepper are essential. Once you’ve sautéd your onions and browned the ground beef in go the crushed tomatoes, along with the salt and pepper and herbs.
Cook the sauce down for 10 minutes and then combine the cooked spaghetti with the sauce and cover with the cheeses. Bake this for 20 or until just beginning to brown. For the final touch add chopped parsley on top and you’ve got a dinner that will soon become a family favorite, one that’s a lot less messy than the traditional spaghetti dinner!
Baked Beef Spaghetti
15m prep time
1h cook time
- 1 1-lb box spaghetti
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 white onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb ground beef
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 28-oz can San Marzano tomatoes
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- Chopped fresh parsley (for garnish)
- Preheat oven to 350˚F. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium heat. Sauté onions for 5 minutes or until they’re starting to turn translucent. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add ground beef, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning and cook until meat is browned, about 8 minutes.
- In a medium bowl crush tomatoes by hand. Pour both tomatoes and the juice in with the beef and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add in chopped basil and toss with spaghetti. Taste sauce and add more salt and pepper if needed.
- Transfer to casserole dish if the mixture won’t all fit into the skillet. Top with cheeses and bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and beginning to brown. Top with chopped parsley and serve piping hot.
Recipe adapted from Delish.