Dive into a rich blend of spaghetti, creamy cheeses, zesty marinara, and hearty beef. This Million Dollar Spaghetti Casserole isn’t just a name; it’s a taste that’s truly priceless.
Ah, spaghetti. The one meal that took me from childhood tantrums to adulthood cravings. Growing up, I would sit at our old wooden table, eagerly waiting for mom’s classic spaghetti. But THIS Million Dollar Spaghetti Casserole? It’s an evolution of those memories. One summer evening, after trying to recreate mom’s classic with a little twist, I threw together a few of my favorite ingredients, not expecting much. What emerged from the oven was no ordinary pasta bake. It was an ooey-gooey, rich, and creamy concoction that made our taste buds feel like they had just won the lottery. And thus, this “million-dollar” gem was born.
Million Dollar Spaghetti Casserole:
What makes our Million Dollar Spaghetti Casserole stand out?
First, it’s the symphony of cheeses. Combining cream cheese with ricotta and mozzarella is like joining the all-stars of the cheese world for a grand performance.
Secondly, the ground beef isn’t just tossed in; it’s enhanced with garlic and Italian seasonings, enveloping the dish with a robust flavor profile.
Lastly, this isn’t your regular dump-and-bake recipe. The layered construction ensures every bite gives you a little bit of everything, making it a culinary journey from start to finish.
Ingredients For Million Dollar Spaghetti Casserole:
Olive oil: Use extra virgin for a deeper flavor, but any kind will do.
Onions: Finely diced; they’re here to offer a subtle sweetness that contrasts the meatiness.
Ground beef: Opt for lean to prevent the casserole from getting too greasy.
Italian seasoning: Freshly mixed or store-bought, this is the heart of our flavor profile.
Marinara sauce: A chunky variety adds texture, but use whatever tickles your fancy.
Spaghetti: Standard spaghetti works wonders, but you can use any pasta you have on hand. Just remember, it’s called Million Dollar Spaghetti Casserole for a reason!
Cheeses: Freshly grated mozzarella is a game-changer, trust me. And for ricotta, opt for full-fat for that creamy goodness.
How To Make Million Dollar Spaghetti Casserole:
Alright, folks, let’s transform these ingredients into a million-dollar masterpiece!
First, preheat that oven to 350°F and lovingly grease your baking dish.
Now, grab a skillet and heat olive oil. Sauté your onions till they whisper sweet nothings, then introduce garlic for a fragrant twist.
Next, enter ground beef. Brown it and break those lumps as if you’re trying to get your day’s worth of exercise.
Once done, drain any excess oil, sprinkle Italian seasoning, and add 2 cups of marinara sauce. Stir it like a cauldron of magic, and then set aside. Parallelly, boil your spaghetti in salted water but keep it al dente – remember, it’s going to bake too! Once done, drain, return to the pot, and mix with 1 cup marinara.
In another bowl, mix together the superstar cheeses with garlic powder and the remaining Italian seasoning.
Now, layering time! Half the spaghetti goes first, topped with the cheese mix. Repeat with remaining spaghetti, beefy sauce, and end with a lavish sprinkle of mozzarella.
Slide it into the oven and bake till it looks like golden magic. If you’re feeling adventurous, broil for a couple of minutes, but don’t let it become a burnt millionaire!
Got leftovers? First, give yourself a pat on the back for not devouring it all. Store any remaining casserole in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. You can also wrap it in aluminum foil and freeze it for longer storage. Just thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating. And remember, the microwave is your friend for quick reheating, but the oven retains that fresh-baked taste.
Variations and Substitutions:
Vegetarian in the house? Swap the beef with mushrooms or a mix of zucchini and bell peppers. If you’re a cheese adventurer, try adding a sprinkle of cheddar or provolone. And hey, gluten-free folks, I see you! Just opt for gluten-free spaghetti, and you’re good to go. For those watching their dairy, replace ricotta with a tofu blend, and use dairy-free mozzarella. But no matter how you twist it, the essence of this million-dollar casserole remains priceless!
Million Dollar Spaghetti Casserole
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1/2 cup of onions diced finely
- 3 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 pound of lean ground beef
- 2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning divided for use
- 3 cups of Marinara sauce divided for use
- 1 pound of Spaghetti noodles
- Kosher salt adjusted to preference for the pasta water
- 8 ounces of cream cheese brought to room temperature
- 1 cup of ricotta cheese
- 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 2 cups of mozzarella cheese freshly grated
- Preheat the oven to a temperature of 350°F (175°C). Proceed to grease a baking dish measuring 9″ x 13″ and keep it aside for later use.
- Pour olive oil into a sizable pan or skillet. Heat the oil over medium-high heat. Subsequently, introduce the finely diced onions, sautéing them until they become translucent, roughly 3 minutes. Incorporate the minced garlic and continue to sauté for an additional minute, ensuring the garlic releases its aroma but does not burn. Introduce the lean ground beef to the pan, ensuring it is broken into fine crumbles as it browns.
- After browning, drain the excess fat from the beef. Return the beef to the pan. Season with 1 teaspoon of the designated Italian seasoning. Integrate this seasoned beef with 2 cups of the Marinara sauce. Once thoroughly mixed, set aside.
- In parallel to preparing the beef, boil the spaghetti noodles in water seasoned with Kosher salt. It is advised to boil the spaghetti for a duration 3 minutes less than the al dente recommendation on its packaging.
- Once boiled, drain the spaghetti. Return the drained spaghetti to its pot, and amalgamate it with 1 cup of Marinara sauce. Once thoroughly combined, set it aside for subsequent use.
- In a separate medium-sized bowl, combine the room-temperature cream cheese, ricotta cheese, garlic powder, and the remaining teaspoon of Italian seasoning. Ensure these ingredients are mixed thoroughly.
- To assemble the casserole, commence by placing half of the previously prepared spaghetti in a uniform layer within the 9″ x 13″ baking dish. Carefully spread the mixed cheese preparation over the initial layer of spaghetti. Then, introduce the remaining spaghetti in another even layer atop the cheese. Thereafter, evenly distribute the beef and sauce mixture over this layer. Finally, garnish the assembly with a generous layer of freshly grated mozzarella cheese.
- Place the baking dish in the preheated oven, allowing it to bake for a duration of 30 minutes, or until the top layer turns a pleasant shade of golden brown. Should a darker hue be desired, briefly place the dish under a broiler for 2-3 minutes, monitoring closely to prevent the cheese from charring. Once cooked to satisfaction, remove from the oven and serve in a timely manner.