Whenever I need some kitchen inspiration, foodgawker never lets me down. I saw this Baked Spaghetti recipe from The Cooking Photographer on foodgawker one morning when I needed an idea for something to make for dinner. I immediately went to the store to buy the ingredients. The sauce is ridiculously easy to make. It does take awhile, but the actual work is about 5 minutes total. The sauce recipe makes more that you need for the casserole, you can either serve the extra alongside the baked spaghetti or you can toss some in with the noodles. Or you could also use it for something else entirely. The sauce is really rich and you can taste how long it has been cooked. No one except for maybe my mom will know what I am talking about, but it reminded me of the sauce that was on the lasagna at the Rugby. The Rugby has been closed for years and years, but as soon as I ate this, it brought me back to being maybe 5 or 6 and eating baked pasta with my mom and dad. It is amazing how food can trigger memories isn’t it?
This recipe calls for a 10×15 pan. I do not own one, so I made it in two pans, we ate one and froze the other for another night. This recipe is a spring board for other variations. You could make a vegetarian version with maybe some sauteed onions, peppers, mushrooms, spinach, zucchini, eggplant. Hmmm… maybe I need to make that little combo tomorrow.
I missed a few spices when I took the picture. Here are the rest.
Crockpot Marinara Sauce:
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes in rich puree
1 (28-ounce) can no sugar tomato sauce
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 cup water
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves minced garlic
3 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 large bay leaf
(pretend that there is a bag of shredded mozzarella in this picture. My bad.)
To assemble the Baked Spaghetti:
4 cups Crockpot Marinara SAuce
1 pound hot Italian sausage
1 pound spaghetti
1/2 cup reserved pasta water
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 (32-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded mozarella
Ready for the easiest marinara sauce ever? Put everything in the crockpot and cook on low for 10 to 12 hours. Give a stir every now and again. Done.
Make this the day before you are going to make the baked spaghetti. Keep in the fridge.
Add the sausage to a pan over medium to medium high heat. Break up the sausage and brown. Drain off the fat and set aside. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Cook the spaghetti in salted water. Drain and reserve some of the the cooking water. Put in a large bowl and toss with the butter and olive oil. You can also toss the noodles with some of the leftover sauce if you would like.
In a bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, the reserved pasta water, and 1 cup of the Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
Spread the noodles into a 10×15 baking dish. I do not have a pan that large, so I used a 9×13 and an 8×8. Cover with the sausage.
Spread the ricotta cheese mixture evenly over the sausage and then spread the tomato sauce on top of the ricotta.
Top with the mozzarella cheese and the remaining Parmesan cheese.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly. Rest for 10 minutes before cutting. Serve with extra sauce on the side. And maybe some garlic bread.