February 01, 2017

layered spaghetti pie

I make it a point to hire gals at Euna Mae's who love to cook and feed people. It's our mode of operation around here. Cooking and feeding people. So we have many a conversation about food and recipes and ingredients. My shop girl Robyn and I had a visit not long ago about spaghetti pie. She was telling me how she made up a recipe that was a mix-up of two recipes from one of her Little Rock local cookbooks. So we talked all about it, how she built hers, what she had learned, and I interjected with my favorite ingredients and kitchen ways...and voila! This layered spaghetti pie came to life! 

Truth be told, I couldn't quit thinking about it after Robyn and I talked. Please tell me that y'all fix on food like I do.   

Anyway, this little number is so good. There're few things more comforting than spaghetti and cheese! AND it's so so fun to baked it in a spring form pan. Yes of course, you can pile it all in a 9x13 or an oval casserole, but the presentation after releasing this noodle pie from the spring form pan is undeniably fabulous! AND. IT'S. DIVINE. Layers of saucy noodles, ricotta, mozzarella, and an easy seasoned bread crumb topping! If lasagna and spaghetti had a baby, it would be this layered spaghetti pie! You must try it. My family went wild over it! I'm betting yours will too! 

Serves 6-8

Not quite 1lb angel hair pasta (I boil ¾ of the box)
2 cups seasoned store-bought croutons, crushed

-for the sauce-
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 ½ lb. ground beef
2 jars store-bought red sauce (I choose a three-cheese sauce)
1 teaspoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
Pinch salt and pepper

-for the cheese filling-
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 cups + 2 cups shredded mozzarella
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Pinch salt and pepper

In a large saucepan swirled with oil, saute onion 2-3 minutes to begin the cooking. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking up, until no longer pink. Spoon out some of the fat. Pour in jars of red sauce; and stir in brown sugar, flakes, garlic, and salt/pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and have at the ready when it’s time to boil the pasta. In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, 2 cups mozzarella, eggs, garlic, oregano, and salt/pepper. Then boil the angel hair for only about 3 minutes so it’s very al dente. (Pliable but firm inside.) Transfer drained pasta into the spaghetti sauce. If your saucepan inside large enough to combine the two, then mix them together in a big bowl.

Set the oven to 350F. Grease a 9-10” springform pan and set it on a metal sheet pan. (If you don’t have a springform pan, you can bake the spaghetti in a 3 qt baking dish. Spoon/spread ⅓ of the spaghetti in the bottom of the pan, then spread half of the ricotta mixture. Repeat with another ⅓ of the spaghetti, the last half of the ricotta, and top with the final ⅓ of spaghetti. Top with remaining 2 cups shredded mozzarella.

Bake loosely covered with foil for 30 minutes. Remove foil, cover top with crushed croutons, drizzle with olive oil, and bake another 10 minutes or so until the crouton topping is golden. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before removing from the springform pan. Use a long serrated knife to cut into wedges. Serve with garlic toast and a salad!