Comfort food at it’s best, Maria’s Baked Spaghetti is creamy, cheesy and easy to make. It’s guaranteed to be a family favorite.
Here’s the thing. Even though we’re in the depths of summer, to the point where only Alaska and Washington managed to stay under 90 degrees earlier this week, I’m craving comfort food … turn your oven on, load up a pan and set the timer to one hour kind of comfort food.
That’s bad, right? Everyone’s always talking about doing the opposite; eating salads and sandwiches and letting the dust gather on the dials of the trusty heat-producing appliance.
Normally there’d be a kinds of amens coming from me on that idea, but I have really, really been craving comfort food.
Enter my friend Maria and a container of her baked spaghetti that she wanted me to try. Say what? Comfort food? Loaded up in a pan? Baked for 45 minutes? Sing hallelujah and call me for dinner.
I tried Maria’s baked spaghetti. Then I promptly got the recipe from her, bought all the ingredients and made it for supper … that night.
My friends, this is serious comfort food. Serious, easy comfort food. The first thing I did was to start the noodles boiling so they’d cook while I sautéd a chopped onion along with a couple cloves of minced garlic in a big skillet. I added my beef and cooked it until it was browned. I seasoned it with salt and pepper, then added the spaghetti sauce.
Since I usually make my own sauce, I did dink with the jarred stuff and added a good amount (two tablespoons) of dried oregano, as well as more salt and pepper.
Once the noodles were almost done, (very al dente), I drained the pasta, added it to the meat mixture in the skillet and combined everything.
To put together the casserole, I dumped a layer of the noodle mixture in the bottom of a 13 x 9 pan, laid slices of Velveeta (it has to be Velveeta according to Maria … and I agree) to cover the spaghetti, then topped the cheese with a layer of pepperoni slices (or dried beef like I used since Doug doesn’t care for pepperoni). I repeated the layers, topped the whole thing with shredded Cheddar and popped the dish in my hot oven. Done.
I love you, Maria (she already knows that though since I’ve told her over and over since she gave me the recipe). This is delicious. All three of us thought so. The Velveeta takes it to a gooey level of creamy that’s just out of this world.
In fact, I asked Doug if he liked this version better than the one he grew up with and he said that it was ‘a tough decision to make.’ We all know what that means.
What I’d Do Different Next Time
Not a darn thing.
Ground beef: $7.50
Yellow onion: $.79
Spaghetti Sauce: $5
16-slice Velveeta: $3.19
Shredded Cheddar: $2.99
Maria’s Baked Spaghetti Recipe
- 1 pound dried spaghetti
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1½ pound ground beef
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 2 24-ounce cans spaghetti sauce
- 16 slices of Velveeta cheese
- Sliced pepperoni
- 1½ cups shredded sharp Cheddar
- Preheat the oven to 350.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until the noodles are still very al dente (they'll soften more in the casserole).
- While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté 5 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds more.
- Raise the heat to medium-high, add the beef and cook until all the pink is gone. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the spaghetti sauce, season if desired, and simmer until heated through.
- Drain the pasta and add it to the beef mixture.
- Arrange one layer of the pasta/beef mixture in a greased 9x13 baking dish. Top with slices of the Velveeta, then slices of pepperoni and finally shredded Cheddar. Repeat the layers, ending with the Cheddar.
- Bake uncovered in the 350 over for 30-45 minutes, until bubbly.
On a final note, it turns out that since my oven is self-cleaning it has extra insulation and therefore doesn’t heat my kitchen at all when I use it. Yea me.