It’s feeling more and more like Fall. Cooler days, chilly nights. Leaves on the trees are slowly starting to turn, and my garden veggie plants are looking sadder by the minute.
I do love Fall. I don’t love what comes after Fall, which is why it’s hard for me to admit even liking the change in seasons. I am ready, however, for the change in routine that comes with the cooler Fall weather, especially where food is involved. It’s time to crank up the ovens, and to simmer large pots of soups for hours.
I recently put my new vintage pyrex dishes to use with this super yummy baked spaghetti.
I was craving something gooey and cheesy and wonderful, like lasagna, but didn’t have those ingredients. So, I came up with this and it was a wonderful replacement.
-Start by cooking spaghetti noodles (or any noodles you have on hand) until short of Al Dente. The noodles will continue to cook in the oven, and you don’t want a mushy mess in the end.
-Brown up a meat of your choice. I used part Italian sausage and part ground beef.
-Pour enough pasta sauce to coat the bottom of your baking dish, then mix the rest with your browned meat. For this dish, I tapped into my limited supply of homemade pasta sauce (recipe here).
-Drain noodles, run under cold water, then arrange in bottom of baking dish.
-Next, top with ricotta or cottage cheese (or a mixture of the two, similar to what I did). You could mix in some cream cheese too and I’m certain that would also be delish!
-Then, spread on a thick layer of your saucy meat mixture.
-Top with shredded cheese – Italian cheese blend, for me, thanks!
-Bake, covered with foil, for 30 minutes.
-After 30 minutes, turn off oven, remove foil and let the casserole sit in the oven another 20’ish minutes while it’s cooling – this allows a really nice brown crust to form on the top layer of cheese. And, if I’m being honest here, I have to admit that I dished myself up a serving (shown in the picture above) before the casserole went back into the cooling oven to brown. I was starving and didn’t feel I could wait – what’s a girl to do? Plus, I’m in charge, so I’ll do what I want!
You can serve right away with a nice piece of garlic bread, a crisp, fresh salad…or just on its own.
Next time I think I’ll add a layer of roasted peppers and onions to my baked spaghetti casserole. This is another great recipe to play with. Add all your Italian dish favorites.
So, tell me…what’s your favorite thing about Fall?