Saturday, April 17, 2010

Baked Spaghetti from Trisha Yearwood

A perfect potluck casserole, this one feeds a crowd! Using a basic tomato based spaghetti meat sauce as a base with layer of spaghetti noodles & cheese, finished with a cream soup topping.
A perfect potluck casserole, this one feeds a crowd! Using a basic tomato based spaghetti meat sauce as a base with layer of spaghetti noodles & cheese, finished with a cream soup topping.

Baked Spaghetti

Baked Spaghetti is a fantastic meal for any day, but most especially for feeding a crowd, making it perfect for potlucks, church suppers and socials.  This one has been a favorite around my house ever since the first time I made it. It comes from the cookbook Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood {affil link}, another favorite, and it is simply delicious. Check out the Hot Corn Dip I made from the new cookbook and the Warm Feta and Artichoke Dip I made from her first cookbook.

This baked spaghetti starts pretty much the same as with any spaghetti - boiling the noodles and putting together a meat sauce.  When I make spaghetti, I like to break up the noodles to make them more bite manageable, so I usually break them in half.  If you have little ones, you can break them down into another half. It just makes it much easier to eat, especially when it's in a casserole like this.

Trisha Yearwood adds 1 small (2.25 ounce) can of sliced black olives drained, which I omit, along with 3 (14.5) cans of diced tomatoes with the liquid, part of which I exchange for Rotel tomatoes. The olives are added with the tomatoes and combined with all of the other sauce ingredients. I happen to love olives but generally omit, since The Cajun doesn't like them and often, this dish is traveling for other people to eat. I like the added punch of Rotel tomatoes, and often substitute them for at least part of the tomatoes, when a recipe calls for plain diced tomatoes. There are several varieties of Rotel available these days, depending on the heat level you prefer. Use a little additional beef broth if you need to loosen the sauce up more to make up the difference in the juices. From there it's just layering and then baking.

Here's how to do it.

Spread half of the spaghetti noodles in the bottom of a greased 9 x 13 x 2 inch baking pan.  Top that with half of the meat sauce. I love this meat sauce, which includes bacon. When I use bacon in a meal like this, I usually use my kitchen shears to cut it directly into the pan. It makes an easy job of "slicing" bacon. I also substituted Italian seasoning for the dried oregano, and use substantially less than what the original recipe called for, which I felt would be a bit too strong for my tastes.

Sprinkle half of the cheese on top of that and repeat with another layer of noodles, sauce and cheese.  I used Cheddar cheese, but Mozzarella or other cheeses would work well - just use your favorite kind. Mix the cream of mushroom soup with water and spread on top. I've also used my homemade cream of mushroom soup in place of the canned variety and it worked beautifully! Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top of that and bake uncovered, at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until bubbly.

I'm a big fan of baked spaghetti and this one is fantastic. Great for a family meal with plenty of leftovers, and perfect for a potluck or church social. I know it'll become a favorite of yours too.

Recipe: Baked Spaghetti

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 30 min |Cook time: 30 min | Yield: About 12 servings

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 3/4 pound spaghetti noodles, cooked and drained
  • 6 slices bacon
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans Italian style diced tomatoes, with liquid
  • 2 (10 ounce) cans Rotel tomatoes, with liquid
  • 1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 cups grated Cheddar or Mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 (10-3/4 ounce) can original cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter or spray a 9 × 13 x 2 inch baking dish with non stick spray.

Break the spaghetti noodles in half once or twice to make them more bite sized and drop them into a large stockpot filled with boiling, well salted water. Brown the ground beef in a large skillet; remove, drain and set aside. Cut the bacon in half lengthwise, stack a few slices together and cut into small pieces, dropping it directly into that same skillet. Cook until only slightly crispy; remove and let drain on a paper towel, reserving the bacon fat in the skillet.

Add the onion and green bell pepper to the bacon fat and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another 2 minutes. To that, add the tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and the cooked beef and bacon. Bring up to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Layer half of the spaghetti noodles into the prepared baking dish. Spoon over half of the meat sauce. Add half of the cheddar and then repeat all three layers. Combine the cream of mushroom soup with the water and blend well. Drop over the top layer of cheese and carefully spread across the top. Sprinkle the top with the Parmesan cheese and bake at 350 degrees F, uncovered, for 30 to 35 minutes, or until heated through and bubbly around the edges.

Cook's Notes: Use a mix of sweet or hot Italian sausage with the ground beef. I use the original cream soup in most of my casseroles. I find that the lower fat and sodium products tend to be watery in casseroles. 1-1/2 cups of commercial white cheese sauce (such as Ragu brand alfredo, four cheese, parmesan, etc.) may be substituted for the cream soup and water. I use mild Rotel, but it is also okay to omit it and substitute plain diced tomatoes; may also drain the Rotel to tone it down and just loosen the sauce a bit with some beef broth.

Tip: If you'd ever had the occasion to end up with watery spaghetti on your plate, the culprit is likely the wet pasta. Don't rinse the pasta, make sure you give it time to drain really well, and don't build the casserole until it is dry and stops steaming. That steam can create condensation and thus water in the finished dish. Also, you can transfer the pasta back to the hot, but empty, cooking pot and place it back over the turned off burner. The residual heat from the burner and the pot will help to dry the water out of the pasta.

The casserole came right up to the very top of my baking dish by the time that I got through the layering, so for insurance, I placed a pan on the lower rack and the casserole on the top rack to bake, just in case there was any spillover. There wasn't, thankfully, but you may want to take that precaution also, just in case!


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©Deep South Dish
Adapted from Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood {affil link} 
To see all of my Trisha Yearwood recipes, click right here.
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Posted by on April 17, 2010

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