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Sunday Suppers with Lunchbox Love–Spaghetti Casserole

Now that the school year is in full swing, I need to find easy dinners that can double as lunches for the next day. However, my kids’ lunches need to be nut-free and meat-free, leading me to find a lot of pasta or bread and cheese dishes. Although this recipe, from 100 Days of Real Food, does contain meat, I prefer making it without and sauteing a whole bunch of onions instead. When I make it, I usually double the recipe and freeze in batches so it’s easy to take out at night and just heat up in the morning for my kids’ lunches.


(image and recipe from 100 Days of Real Food)

½ pound whole-wheat spaghetti noodles
2 eggs
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil + extra for greasing the casserole dish
½ onion, peeled and diced
½ green bell pepper, deseeded and diced
1 pound ground beef
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt
Crushed red pepper, to taste (a few firm shakes for us)
1 – 26 oz jar of your favorite red spaghetti sauce or 3 cups homemade sauce
¾ cup ricotta cheese
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
¼ cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Brush a rectangular baking dish with olive oil and set aside.

Cook the spaghetti noodles al dente, drain, and then mix with the eggs and ½ cup of the Parmesan cheese. Put in the bottom of the casserole dish.

In a large saute pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook until soft, but not brown, about 5 minutes.

Add the beef to the pan and break up the meat with a spatula. Cook until the beef is brown all the way through.

Drain and discard the fat (I find putting a lid on the pan helps with this job).

Add the garlic, salt, and red pepper, and cook for 1 more minute before adding the red sauce to pan. Heat for an additional few minutes.

Pour the meat/sauce mixture on top of the noodles in the casserole dish. Top with dollops of ricotta cheese, grated mozzarella, breadcrumbs, and remaining ¼ cup Parmesan cheese. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown on top. Serve warm and enjoy.

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