Friday, March 29, 2013

Spaghetti and Meatball Pie

Spaghetti and Meatball Pie?!  I loved this dinner, it's such a fun form of spaghetti and meatballs.  It was a little more work than slapping noodles on a plate and covering with sauce, but not much (especially if you buy the meatballs like I did). I'm normally not a fan of spaghetti and meatballs (see other confessions here), but I loved the flavors and textures from this variation.  The creamy cheese and the noodle crust really did it for me. 
I used pre-made meatballs and doubled the recipe to make two pies.  I'm really glad I doubled it because it was really tasty and having an extra dinner in the freezer is convenient.  Doubling also made measuring a bit easier for using a full containers: a whole box of noodles, 16 oz can of tomatoes (I haven't seen 8 oz cans), full 1 lb container of cheese, etc.
Cook's Note: My pie took almost an hour to bake before the middle was warm.  All ovens are different and the temperauture of the ingredients will make a difference if you do some steps ahead of time.  To check the temperature, poke a knife into the middle of the pie (going down to the bottom) and put it to you lips.  If it's still cool, continue cooking until it's warm enough. 

Spaghetti and Meatball Pie
From My Retro Kitchen
Yield: 6 servings

8 oz (half a box) dry spaghetti noodles
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2  eggs, well-beaten
1 lb ground turkey or beef, divided (1/4 for meatballs and 3/4 for in the skillet sauce)
1/2 cup onion, diced
3/4 cup zucchini, shredded (optional)
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced (optional)
1 bell pepper, chopped (optional)
1 (8 oz) can Italian-style stewed tomatoes (don’t drain) or 4 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 Tbsp fresh oregano, chopped or 1 tsp dried oregano, crushed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Mozzarella or Moneterey Jack cheese, shredded

Meatballs (makes 4-6)
The reserved 1/4 lb ground meat
8 Ritz crackers, crushed (or 1/4 cup bread crumbs)
1 tsp fresh oregano chopped
1 tsp fresh basil, chopped
Salt and fresh ground black pepper

For the Meatballs:
Combine all ingredients and roll into golfball sized meatballs.  Brown on all sides and set aside. 

For the Pie:
Cook spaghetti noodles. Drain. Stir butter into hot noodles until melted. Stir in Parmesan cheese and eggs. Form pasta mixture into a crust shape in a buttered 9-inch pie plate.

In skillet, cook ground beef and onions, bell pepper and mushrooms until meat is browned. Drain. Add to meat mixture, tomatoes, zucchini, tomato paste, oregano and garlic. Heat through. Spread cottage cheese over bottom of spaghetti crust.

Top with tomato/meat mixture.  Cut the meatballs in half and arrange on top.  Sprinkle grated cheese over all.

Lightly cover pan with foil and bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Remove foil and bake for 5-10 more minutes until cheese is lightly browned.  Cut into pie wedges and serve.

Freezer Instructions: You can also prepare this dish ahead of time and freeze for later.  If you want to go this route, cover the pie pan with foil right after assembly; label and freeze.  When you are ready to serve: Thaw, bake covered for 25 minutes at 350 F. Remove foil and bake for 5 minutes more until cheese is lightly browned.

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