When my father passed away in 2006, several church friends brought food to the funeral home to feed the many family members visiting that week. One of my favorite dishes was baked spaghetti from a lovely lady named Terry. This is my version, which is different from hers, but still stands as a tribute to her kindness in a difficult time.
- 1 lb ground beef or sausage
- 1 24 oz jar pasta sauce
- 16 oz spaghetti noodles
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 16 oz small-curd cottage cheese
- 2 cups shredded cheese (I like cheddar jack, but mozzarella is good too)
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp black pepper (optional)
- Parsley to garnish (optional)
Brown meat and drain. Return to pan and stir in sauce; pour 1/4 cup water into empty jar and shake to get any sauce sticking to sides before pouring water into pan as well. Reduce heat to medium low. Break pasta in half and cook in large pot to al dente; drain. In large bowl, combine cottage cheese, mozzarella and the seasonings. Spray 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan (or 2 smaller dishes) with cooking spray. Spread half the sauce on the bottom, top with half the pasta, then all of the cheese mixture (this is easiest if you “dot” spoonfulls of the mixture over the pasta rather than try to “spread”). Top cheese with the rest of pasta and then rest of sauce; sprinkle with Parmesan and parsley if desired. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees (uncover for the final 15 minutes). Add salad and garlic bread* for a complete meal!
*(For garlic bread as shown: half and split 1 loaf Italian or French bread; stir together 1 stick softened butter, 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese, 1 tsp garlic powder, and 1 tsp parsley and spread evenly over bread. Bake with spaghetti for the final 15 minutes.)
This recipe also works well if you mix the pasta and the sauce together before combining; we will often do this if we have leftovers from a previous dinner, adjusting the filling mixture accordingly. All amounts in this recipe are very forgiving. Have less of (or more than) something than the recipe calls for? It’s still delicious, I promise.