Whole wheat pasta and cheddar cheese. There was no way this should be good.
Still; there was Rich’s mom telling us how tasty it was and how much she’d enjoyed it at some pitch-in dinner or other, and you know what?
She was right!
No, this handy little casserole will not have you thinking of dinners in Tuscany – it kind of reminded me (in a good way) of spaghetti day in elementary school – but it will give you a nice entrée suitable for almost any palate, and it really is the first time I’ve had whole wheat pasta where I haven’t felt as if I was grazing at pasture – I think the secret was that she made it the night before and allowed all to sit, covered, in the fridge, so the sauce could work it’s way into the pasta.
The original recipe came from allrecipes.com via I can’t quite recall whom, but Mama Healey put her own spin on things with the whole wheat pasta, and the beautiful, freshly ground chuck from Harvest Market down the street. Served with some garlic bread, Caesar salad, and broccoli salad, it made a fine dinner for a crowd.
You could offer grated parmesan and/or crushed red pepper for folk to add as they like – I may not say no to adding some sliced black olives into the mix the night before, but it will stand on it’s own.
•1 lb lean ground beef
•24 oz (about a jar and a half) spaghetti sauce of choice
•About a box and a half (24 oz.) whole wheat spaghetti
•1 cup (+/-) shredded mild Cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350º (if making right away – but I would strongly suggest putting it all together the night before – more more better).
In large skillet, cook hamburger until brown, and drain.
Stir in pasta sauce, reduce heat and simmer.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Mix in pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
Mix together spaghetti and meat mixture and pour into 9×13 pan. Cover and chill over night.
When ready to bake, remove from fridge and allow to come to room temperature for about an hour. Bake, covered with foil, for about thirty minutes. Remove foil, top with cheese and bake for another twenty to thirty minutes, or until heated through and cheese is bubbly.
I should note that a forkful or four, picked from the pan before packing leftovers away for another day, was a VERY GOOD THING…