I never really understood the point of baking spaghetti… it just seemed like an extra step that stood between me and eating it. But, there’s something about a hot, cheesy casserole straight out of the oven that is extra comforting.
Now that I’ve baked my spaghetti, I totally get it. Baking it in the oven not only lets the cheese get all gooey, but it lets the spaghetti soak up some flavor from the sauce and get all deeeelicious. It’s worth the extra 30 minutes.
I made a quick meat sauce using Italian sausage, which is heavily seasoned and provided all of the herbs and spices that were needed to flavor the sauce. If you want to make a vegetarian version of this (with say, mushrooms and green peppers) be sure to add a good tablespoon or so of Italian seasoning blend to make up for the missing spices in the sausage.
This recipe is perfect for freezing, so pack up half of it and save it for a rainy day when you want something warm and comforting!
Baked Spaghetti with Sausage
Baked Spaghetti with Sausage
- 1 Tbsp olive oil ($0.12)
- 1 small yellow onion ($0.63)
- 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
- 1/2 lb. Italian Sausage ($2.75)
- 1 6 oz. can tomato paste ($0.53)
- 1 28 oz. can diced or crushed tomatoes ($1.75)
- 1/2 tsp salt ($0.02)
- 1 Tbsp sugar ($0.05)
- 12 oz. spaghetti ($0.97)
- 2 oz. feta cheese ($0.87)
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan ($0.42)
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella ($0.93)
- Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Cook both in a large pot with one tablespoon of olive oil over medium-low heat until soft and transparent (about 5 minutes).
- Add the Italian sausage to the pot and cook through (breaking it up into pieces as you cook). Add the tomato paste, stir and cook for about 2-3 minutes more or until the tomato paste takes on a slightly darker color. Add the diced or crushed tomatoes, salt, and sugar. Stir and heat through.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (this can be done while you’re preparing the sauce in step 2). Cook the pasta according to the package directions (boil for 7-10 minutes). Drain the cooked past and then stir into the meat sauce.
- Prepare an 8×8 inch casserole dish by coating with non-stick spray. Add half of the spaghetti mixture to the dish. Sprinkle withe feta cheese. Add the rest of the spaghetti, sprinkle with parmesan cheese, and then top with mozzarella.
- Bake the spaghetti for 30 minutes in the 350 degree oven. Let rest for about 10 minutes before cutting into eight pieces and serving.
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I garnished with fresh chopped parsley to add color.
Step By Step Photos
Begin the sauce by dicing the onion and mincing the garlic. Cook both of them over medium-low heat in a large pot with olive oil. Cook until soft and transparent – about 5 minutes.
I used hot Italian sausage, but you could certainly use sweet or mild Italian sausage if you prefer it. I used half of this package, which is just slightly more than half a pound and then froze the rest. If you want the spaghetti extra meaty and you can afford it, use the whole package. Italian sausage can also be purchased without casings (in a package like ground beef), which is even easier.
Squeeze the sausage out of the casing and into the pot. Cook the sausage (breaking it up into pieces as you go) until cooked through.
Once the sausage is cooked through, add the tomato paste. Stir and cook the tomato paste for about 2-3 minutes or until the tomato paste takes on a slightly darker hue. The color change is due to the tomato paste caramelizing, which deepens the flavor.
Lastly, add the diced (or crushed) tomatoes, salt, and sugar. Stir to combine and heat through. If you want a smoother sauce, use crushed tomatoes instead of diced. Taste the sauce and add more salt, sugar, or spices if desired.
While you’re making the sauce, you can bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once it reaches a full boil, add the pasta and cook until tender (7-10 minutes). I also began preheating the oven at this point.
Once the spaghetti is cooked, drain it briefly, and then stir it into the sauce.
Prepare a casserole dish with non-stick spray. Add half of the spaghetti mixture and then top with the feta. My dish is oblong and maybe one inch longer than an 8×8 inch, but an 8×8 should work fine. If you want to use a 9×13 inch pan, you can do it all in one layer with all three cheeses on top.
Add the rest of the spaghetti and then top with the parmesan cheese.
Lastly, add the mozzarella cheese over top. Place in th 350 degree oven and bake for 30 minutes.
Allow the spaghetti to sit for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.