Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Baked Spaghetti w/Homemade Sauce

After doing my usual last minute scan of the cupboards for dinner inspiration this afternoon, I decided to throw together some baked spaghetti. Spaghetti sauce is surprisingly easy to make from scratch and tastes so much better if you have the time to let it simmer. It takes an hour or two for the flavors to blend but it requires virtually no maintenance while cooking so you can make it then forget about it while it simmers. As with most of my recipes, this one is very versatile. I basically rummaged through the fridge for ingredients and added whatever seemed interesting. I just so happened to have the ingredients to make this a pizza themed pasta bake, although green peppers and olives would have been great additions had I had them on hand. Use this as a base recipe and get creative! Need to use up some zucchini? Throw it in there! Chopped spinach? In it goes! This is a great way to keep those almost-too-old veggies in your fridge from going to waste.
Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

1 onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBL olive oil
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp dried basil
2 tsp salt
2 bay leaves
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 (28 ounce) cans diced or whole tomatoes
1/2 cup red wine
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 pound chicken italian sausage

1. Dice the onions and garlic and saute over medium heat in the 2 TBL olive oil. Cook til onions are tender.
2. Add tomatoes and seasoning (through black pepper). Turn heat to low and simmer for 1 1/2- 2 hours.
3. Stir in tomato paste and use an immersion blender (or you can transfer the sauce to a food processor and blend it that way) to puree the mixture.
4. Cook chicken sausage til brown, add to spaghetti sauce. Let the sauce simmer for another 30 or so minutes.

Baked Spaghetti (or in this case Baked Rotini)
Serves: 4-6

8 oz dry whole wheat pasta (my favorite is rotini because it has lots of nooks for cheese and sauce)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup shredded parmesan
1/2 cup turkey pepperoni (optional), diced
3 cups Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8x8 baking pan.
2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to pot. Add 3 cups of sauce and mix thoroughly.
3. Layer half the pasta in greased pan and sprinkle with half the cheese and half the pepperoni. Repeat with a second layer of ingredients.
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until heated through. Broil for 2-5 minutes til the cheese on top is bubbly and brown.

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