The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, January 7th 2018 edition. By: Blaise Doubman
Baked Spaghetti is an Italian Classic
If I had to pick my favorite food nationality it would have to be Italian. Although Chinese would have to play an important second role, as well as traditional American food. I love anything and everything Italian, from Ziti to Stuffed Shells and every single one of their desserts. Has anyone tried their lady finger and espresso soaked dessert known as “tiramisu”? Heavenly! Every time there is a celebration around here, and I just do not feel like cooking, which is rare, but it happens, I always pick a nice Italian restaurant. There is something in me that thinks I perhaps have some Italian roots, or maybe even an Italian background somewhere years and years in my background. Maybe I will try one of the ancestry websites and poke around some. Although, I am not really keen on the popular ancestry website where you send in a sample of your blood! I do not want my blood going to some big company that may get hacked or something later. And how is it not guaranteed that my blood will not be used years down the road for cloning purposes! Ha! Can you imagine two of me? My family and friends would not know what to do!
But in all honesty, Italian food makes me think of warmth and comfort, celebrations and togetherness. It may also have to do with the fact that my Grandpa Max and Grandma Deloris ate out quite a bit at Italian places when I was growing up, and I would tag along with them. Recently, when I found out that my cookbook was going to start being sold over at the Warm Glow Candle Outlet in Centerville, Indiana, I immediately wanted to celebrate with my family and friends. I had been working on a baked spaghetti recipe for awhile and decided to perfect it and serve it in celebration. I tinkered around for a while and came up with a recipe that is simple, easy, classic and flavorful! Next time you are thinking about what to make for a celebratory meal, I hope your mind drifts to this recipe and you try it with your family and friends! Feel free to experiment with your favorites types of cheeses and herbs.
Baked Spaghetti with Mozzarella and Parmesan
This dish can be made ahead, wrapped with aluminum foil and refrigerated for up to two days. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to two days. Feel free to substitute different types of cheese for the Mozzarella and Parmesan, such as Ricotta. This is perfect served with a side salad and garlic bread.
16 oz spaghetti
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 pound ground beef
Salt, Pepper, Italian Seasonings
28 oz crushed tomatoes
½ cup basil, chopped
½ cup parsley, chopped
2 cups shredded Mozzarella
½ cup grated Parmesan
Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions until al dente, drain and set aside. Be sure to boil the spaghetti in lots of boiling salted water. Also add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to the boiling water. I do this sometimes to prevent the spaghetti from sticking together once the pasta is cooled.
In a large skillet, over medium heat, heat the olive oil for about one minute. Add the chopped onion and cook for about 4 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook until you can smell the warmth, which will take about 2 more minutes. Add the ground beef and season to your liking with the salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.
Cook the meat until fully cooked and no longer pink. Drain the mixture and then return to the skillet, still over medium heat. Add in the crushed tomatoes, chopped basil and chopped parsley until thickened and reduced, which will take about 12 minutes in total. You can taste the mixture at this point and add more seasonings if desired.
Toss this with the cooked spaghetti and pour into prepared baking dish.
Top the dish evenly with the Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.
Place into the preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes. Remove and serve hot.
Ask and Answer: I have been getting a lot of messages about my favorite type of “quick biscuits”. I would have to say my favorite recipe would be on page 83 in my cookbook and calls for only 2 simple ingredients. Self-rising flour and heavy cream. You take the 2 ingredients, roll out and cut, place in preheated 425 degree oven and bake for 14 minutes. People will not believe that the biscuits are only 2 simple ingredients and you will have a new secret recipe!