Thursday, 17 December 2009

Spaghetti Squares

This recipe comes from my favourite SIL (sister-in-law) -- OK, she's my only SIL but she's still pretty awesome! You can easily play with this recipe by adding the toppings that you love or omitting the ones you don't like. I've added some oregano, basil and fresh garlic since I'm a huge fan of all three in Italian cooking.

I think this is an easy way to 'hide' spinach in a dish ... just make sure to chop it up finely and call it 'spices'. This technique works equally well with both picky kids and husbands. :)

1/3 pkg spaghetti noodles, uncooked
1lb ground beef
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
1 (680mL) can pasta sauce
1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
3 tbsp water
1/2 cup black olives, sliced (optional)
2/3 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
2 tbsp butter, softened
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup cottage cheese
1 1/2 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 tbsp parsley (optional garnish)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9x13" pan and set aside.

Cook spaghetti noodles according to package directions.

In a large skillet, cook ground beef, mushrooms and garlic until beef is no longer pink. Drain excess grease. Add oregano, basil and tomato sauce to meat mixture.

Meanwhile, in a microwave safe bowl, put the fresh spinach leaves with the water. Cook on high for about 1 minute or until the leaves look all wet and are very soft (they'll look like a big pill of green mess - yum!) put them on a few layers of paper towel and squeeze out the excess water). Add spinach and black olives (if using) to meat mixture.

Drain noodles and toss with 1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese, butter and eggs. Add noodles mixture to prepared pan.

Mix cottage cheese with remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese and 3/4 cup Mozzarella cheese. Top noodle mixture with the cottage cheese mixture.

Pour meat and sauce mixture over top. Sprinkle with remaining Mozzarella over the top. Sprinkle with parsley over top, if desired.

Bake for 30 minutes or until heated through. Serve with a green salad and crusty bread.

Tip: For a quick meal you can make this casserole ahead of time and keep it in the fridge until ready to use. You'll just have to heat it up longer (45-60 minutes, covered).

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