Spaghetti lasagna

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Spaghetti lasagna

Boston Globe, January 16, 2008

If there was ever a universal crowd pleaser, it’s lasagna. This dish is a variation on the layers of wide noodles and tomato sauce that usually go into the dish. Here spaghetti, tomato sauce, and mozzarella cheese are stacked in a dish, then baked until the top turns golden. Cut big squares and serve with a salad and crusty bread. Bring it to football-watching get-togethers, serve it to a table of teens, or take it to a rented winter vacation house for nourishment after skiing. It can be transported, reheated, and frozen, all without harm.

Spaghetti lasagna
Serves 8

Olive oil (for the dish)
2 teaspoons salt, and more to taste
1 pound spaghetti
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 cans (28 ounces) whole imported tomatoes, crushed in a bowl
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
1 pound shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (for sprinkling)

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Have on hand a deep 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Oil the dish.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes or until the noodles are not quite tender. Strain into a colander and transfer to a bowl. With a scissors, snip the spaghetti in several places. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Toss well and set aside.

3. In a large saucepan, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil. Add the onion and garlic, and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, red pepper, oregano, brown sugar, a generous pinch of salt, and black pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until the mixture thickens. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like.

4. Ladle enough tomato sauce in the bottom of the baking dish to make a thin layer. With tongs, add a layer of spaghetti, using one-third of the mixture, tucking spaghetti into the corners of the dish. Cover with sauce, one-third of the mozzarella, then continue layering, ending with Parmesan on top.

5. Set the dish on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes or until sauce is bubbling at the edges and the top is browned.

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