When I first started talking about my culinary exploits on my blog I got comments asking how I found the time to cook some of the more elaborate things I would talk about. The truth is most of my bigger productions are done on holidays or on weekends when my wife or other family is around to watch the kids.
For the most part our weeknight dinners are simple and quick to prepare, which became even more important after our daughter was born. Over the first few months of her life we were more tired than we had anticipated, so cooking in advance became even more important.
When it was just the three of us my dinner plan usually involved making enough of something one night so that we could have leftovers the next. However, during my wife’s maternity leave I started filling our freezer with homemade sausage, burger patties and meatballs so I could put something on the table with very little effort.
Another thing I made a large batch of is my ragout using the Italian sausage I make. This makes for a rather hearty ragout and, aside from going well with a bowl of pasta, it can be transformed into a number of different baked pasta dishes.
Whenever the mood strikes one of my favorite things to make is a dish my mom used to serve all the time: spaghetti crust pie. You make a pie crust out of cooked spaghetti, some cheese, egg for a binder and some salt and pepper to taste. I like to pre-bake the crust for a few minutes, then fill it with my ragout, top it with some cheese and finish it off in the oven.
You can fill it however you choose, so for the purposes of putting this recipe together I’ll assume ground beef and your favorite off the shelf sauce (unless you happen to have something homemade on hand) for the filling.
Spaghetti Crust Pie
10-12″ Pie Plate
Small mixing bowl
Cutting board, knife
Heavy bottom frying pan or skillet
Spatula, tongs, other utensils
1 pound ground beef
1/2 to 1 full jar of your favorite sauce
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
1 pound spaghetti, cooked, drained and cooled
2 large eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (or an Italian cheese mix)
Salt and pepper to taste
- Cook the spaghetti in the stockpot, drain and cool (drizzle a little olive oil over it or add butter while still hot so it doesn’t stick together)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Sweat the onions for three minutes, until translucent
- Add the garlic and green bell peppers, cook for another three or four minutes
- Add the ground beef and cook until completely browned
- Drain off any excess fat and add as sauce to your tastes for the pie filing, then remove from heat and set aside
- Beat the eggs in the small bowl and add to the cooled spaghetti
- Fold in the 2/3rds of the grated cheese, hit it with some salt and pepper, then toss to combine
- Pour the spaghetti crust mixture into a greased pie plate, pressing the mixture up the sides to create a pie shell
- Sprinkle the remainig 1/3rd of the grated cheese over the pie shell and baked for 10 to 12 minutes
- Add the filling and cover the top with the shredded cheese
- Return to the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes
- If you want a really crispy, crunchy top, set the broiler to high for three to five minutes watching it closely.
Variations on a Theme
My mom used to make this for us all the time growing up and she would use ground turkey and salsa instead of an Italian style gravy. What you make of it is really up to you. If you want to be a little fancier, then you could add some fresh herbs into the spaghetti crust mix. Additionally, you could change up the meats and substitute beef with ground pork, turkey or chicken. Almost any recipe is merely a suggestion or guide to get you where you want to go.
Just cut it up into slices like you would any pie, toss on a plate and serve. Nothing else special to it. If you really want to get fancy I guess you could chop some herbs to toss on it. I’d probably go with either a chiffonade of basil or a little roughly chopped fresh oregano.
If you try this, or anything else you see here, drop me a comment or an email and let me know how you liked it or what you might have done differently to suit your tastes.