Thursday, November 12, 2009

Baked Spaghetti

I love pasta. The Atkins Diet will never be for me. Spaghetti is a great quick meal when you don't have time to make anything fancy or time-consuming, but still want a filling meal that isn't just sandwiches or fast food. As a kid, I always looked forward to spaghetti night. My family even had special Fiestaware bowls we used for spaghetti; they were even in Poppa, Momma, and Baby Bear sizes.

I recently got a bunch of free whole wheat pasta from the grocery store (thank you BOGO sales and coupon doubling), and was searching for ways to use it other than regular spaghetti. I love baked spaghetti, though for whatever reason, I've never tried to make it myself. My staple cookbooks didn't have a recipe for it, so I browsed a few recipes on various website and decided to make up my own.

This dish can be fairly healthy, or really indulgent. I chose to stay more at the healthy end of the spectrum, using whole wheat pasta, ground turkey, and not a huge amount of cheese (although being a born-and-bred Wisconsin girl, I was mighty tempted). Next time I think I'm going to throw in some mushrooms as well. If you want to go all out, use ground italian sausage, white pasta, and as much cheese as your heart desires. I was very pleased with how this turned out and will definitely be making it again in the future.

Baked Spaghetti

1 lb. angel hair pasta or spaghetti noodles (or almost any other pasta of your choice)
1 lb. lean ground beef, turkey, or Italian sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
½ c. green pepper, chopped
2 t. minced garlic
1 t. dried oregano
1 t. dried basil
1 t. salt
1 (10.75 oz.) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 (10.75 oz.) can condensed tomato soup
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 c. water
1 c. mozzarella cheese
½ c. mild cheddar cheese

Step 1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions; drain.
Step 2. Meanwhile, cook ground beef, onion, green pepper, and garlic in a Dutch oven until meat is no longer pink; drain. Add soups, tomato sauce, water, and seasonings to meat mixture; stir well.
Step 3. Add spaghetti to meat sauce, along with ½ c. mozzarella cheese; stir well. Transfer mixture to greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Sprinkle top with cheddar and remaining mozzarella cheese.
Step 4. Bake at 350 °C for 25 to 30 minutes or until mixture is hot and bubbly and cheese is golden brown.

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