A wild weather week for Florida! With time to prepare, evacuate, get out of the way, shelter in place or some combination there remains the stress of waiting and anticipating. Mother Nature can be incredibly generous and she can be equally devastating. This month alone Harvey doused Texas and Louisiana, and Irma exploded on the scene to wreck havoc on the peninsula of Florida. Last year, almost on the same date we experienced hurricane Hermine. Hate to think this is the new normal as storms are becoming bigger and stronger during hurricane season due to the warming of the ocean waters which is fuel for these storm systems.
During times of stress it is in our nature to find solace in traditional comfort foods. While we waited and prepared for Irma’s arrival a craving was building for an EPIC comfort meal to feed the family, or a crowd. The dish was baked spaghetti and my friends there is no finer comfort.
The recipe below is my take on baked spaghetti but certainly you can change this recipe up as you like and I am sure it will be delicious.
Hurricane Irma’s Baked Spaghetti
Serves a crowd
(makes a 9×13 pan with generous portions)
1lb. Thin spaghetti
2 jars (24 ounces) good quality Marinara Sauce
1lb. lean ground beef
Olive oil for cooking
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
16 ounces 4% small curd cottage cheese or Ricotta cheese (I prefer cottage cheese)
3-4 cups Mozzarella Cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large pot of boiling water add spaghetti and cook according to package directions. Drain. Return to cooking pot and add one jar of marinara sauce. Toss. Set aside.
While the spaghetti is cooking, heat a large pan with a drizzling of olive oil. Add chopped onion, sauté until translucent. Add minced garlic, sauté for another minute. Add Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes. Blend with other ingredients. Add ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Add second jar of marinara sauce. Cook another couple of minutes. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, add cottage cheese or ricotta cheese with 1-2 cups of mozzarella cheese. Blend. Set aside.
In a 9×13 baking pan add a layer of sauce, then spaghetti, then cheese mixture and repeat the layers ending with the sauce. Top with mozzarella cheese and bake 30-35 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown.