What is a casserole?
A casserole dish refers to a large deep pan or dish that can go into the oven to bake food. However, the general term refers to a category of foods cooked in those types of vessels. Read on for the easy recipe for our Favorite Spaghetti Casserole.
Casserole recipes have been around for a long time. Per Finedininglovers.com, the French word originated as communal pots that people shared for meals. The oldest recipe dates to about 1250, which consisted of pasta sheets cooked in water and layered with grated cheese and spices.
In modern day America, these tasty dishes are considered comfort foods. They magically combine varieties of individual ingredients to create tasty masterpieces. As a bonus, they are generally easy to prepare, often requiring one dish in which to bake. While our recipe does require a skillet to start, the ingredients are simple, and the recipe is straightforward.
Now’s the time for a casserole
There is no better time than the month of February to enjoy the warmth and depth of flavor casseroles have to offer. Here’s our recipe for Favorite Spaghetti Casserole. Stay tuned for more hearty baking-dish recipes coming this month. (Add link to another of our upcoming casserole recipes.)
Favorite Spaghetti Casserole Recipe
- 2 Tablespoons salted butter
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 ½ lbs. lean ground beef or lean ground turkey (pick one/must use lean)
- 2 (8 oz. each) cans tomato sauce
- 1 (8 oz.) package spaghetti
- 1 (3 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
- 1 ½ cups sour cream, room temp.
- 5 green onions, chopped
- 1 (8 oz.) package grated Cheddar cheese
In a large skillet, over medium low heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper. Cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the beef. Cook until the meat is brown, and any fat is cooked off. Add the tomato sauce and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti until al dente, using the package directions. Drain and set aside. Lightly grease a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Immediately pour the spaghetti into the casserole dish. In a separate bowl, using a whisk, combine the softened cream cheese, sour cream, and the green onions. Mix well and pour it over the warm spaghetti. Spread the spaghetti out evenly in the casserole. Next, top with the cooked beef/tomato mixture and with sprinkle cheddar cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes. Enjoy hot.
Chef’s recipe notes: Al dente pasta means “to the tooth.” While the cooked pasta should not be crunchy, it should retain a slight bite and not be soft. The directions on the box should indicate how long it takes to cook the pasta to achieve al dente status. However, people are encouraged to taste and test the pasta to achieve perfection. While some chefs call for al dente pasta as they simply prefer it, recipes often call for this texture when the noodles are expected to cook further in the recipe. Thus, it is essential to pay attention and be diligent when cooking pasta.
Serving ideas: Serve with an Italian-style or Caesar salad and a fresh loaf of garlic bread. For casual dinners, simply set the casserole on the table and let company self-serve.
Wine pairing suggestions: Choose a full-bodied wine such as Sangiovese, Merlot, or Cabernet Sauvignon – or stick with a Chianti. The latter offers a medium body and high acidity to cut the richness of the sauce. For non-alcoholic alternatives, stick with booze-free mocktails which may be light and fizzy, or enjoy sparkling water with fresh bit of lemon or lime.
Chef’s tip: Room temperature is often called for in recipes requiring emulsification of ingredients. This refers to the process of combining two substances that typically don’t mix well together. As a rule, to bring sour cream to room temperature, leave on the countertop for approximately one hour and away from a source heat. Per reference.com, sour cream should not sit out for longer than four hours in over 40 degrees F.