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.
½ pound whole-wheat spaghetti noodles
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.