Monday, April 26, 2010

41. Spaghetti Pie- Spaghetti Sauce - Family Favorite

My paternal grandparents were immingrants who left their home in Sicily when they were quite young. They worked hard and lived in a close-knit community on Staten Island where family mealtime was an important part of  life; cooking was an expression of heritages and traditions.

After World War II, my parents moved to the Midwest and started their family. I was very fortunate that Mother loved to cook and was exceptionally talented in her ability to take ordinary food and make it special. While my mother was not Italian, she was a master of the Italian cuisine that my father was an education to watch her blend seasonings and proportions to make the taste of her recipes come out just right.

I spent a long time perfecting my own spaghetti sauce. For years, every time I made spaghetti, the sauce had a different flavor...some sauces were good and others were better forgotten. When I finally got the formula down to a perfect blend and a memorable equation, it was a relief to me and my family of taste-testers.

Today's recipe uses my spaghetti sauce and combines it with someone else's great idea. More than 25 years ago I received a piece of junk mail from a company that wanted me to buy their recipe card series. They included a sample card...I kept the sample card, but did not place an order. The recipe was for something I had never heard of...spaghetti pie; the picture on the card looked wonderful and tempting. I used my own sauce, but the rest of the recipe follows their directions. It has become a much loved and requested  family favorite. It is a great dish to take to a potluck dinner or to someone who needs a meal.

(I have tasted several commercial sauces sold in jars and find that most run the gamut of horrible to mediocre. One that is an exception though, is Emeril's Marinara sauce. You could brown your own meat and add his sauce if you are pressed for time; follow directions below from **)

Diane's Spaghetti Pie

6 oz Spaghetti
2 T Butter or Margarine
2 Eggs, beaten (Egg Beaters may be substituted)
1/3 C Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 C Cottage Cheese

Spaghetti sauce (my recipe below)
Mozzarella cheese

Grease a 9 inch pie dish. Prepare the spaghetti per the package directions. Drain cooked spaghetti and place in a bowl; stir butter into hot spaghetti. Next add the beaten eggs and parmesan cheese. Mix well until butter is melted.

Form spaghetti mixture into a "crust" in a greased pie plate. Spread ricotta cheese or cottage cheese onto the center of the crust.

**Spoon some of the meat sauce mixture into spaghetti crust covering the cheese but leaving a pasta'crust' edge. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until heated thoroughly. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes more or until cheese is melted. Remove from oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before cutting. Makes great leftover meals and freezes well. I often make two pies and freeze one for another meal.

Microwave directions: Cover the pie with waxed paper and microwave for 7 minutes or so depending on the temperature of the pie prior to heating. Lift off paper, add mozzarella, recover and heat 1 more minute, until cheese is melted.

Diane's Spaghetti Sauce

1 lb Ground Beef
1/2 C Onion, chopped or 1/4 C (60ml) Dried Minced Onion
2 Garlic cloves crushed
1 can diced Tomatoes, 14.5 oz
1 can Tomato Paste 6 oz
1can Tomato sauce 15 oz
1-2 T Sugar
1 tsp Dried Oregano, crushed
1 tsp dried Basil, crushed
1 tsp dried parsley, crushed
Salt – to taste

3/4 C Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

In skillet, brown ground beef, onion, till meat is browned and onion is tender. Drain off the fat. Stir in undrained tomatoes, tomato paste, sauce, sugar, oregano, basil, parsley and garlic. Add salt to taste Continue to stir until heated through.

Note: Some days just call for improvising...I wanted spaghetti pie but, my husband was away on business and I did not want to go to all the work of making a large pie for just myself. So, I cooked a package of Ramen noodles (without the seasoning), stirred in butter, Egg Beaters, and Parmesan...I put the mixture into a glass bowl, added cottage cheese, put some previously frozen sauce on top and nuked the whole thing in the microwave...It was unbelievably delicious...

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