Tomato Sauce Layer
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 2 to 4 large cloves garlic, minced (to taste)
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
- 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaf
- 1 tablespoon dried basil (or to taste)
- 1 small bay leaf
Cheese and Onion Layer
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup cottage cheese
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/3 cup thinly-sliced green onions, white and light green part only
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/2 pound dry spaghetti noodles
- Make the tomato sauce layer first: heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan.
- Add ground beef, breaking into small pieces and stirring occasionally until browned.
- Add garlic and onion and sauté until onion is transparent.
- Add tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, basil and bay leaf.
- Cover with pan lid ajar to let some steam escape and simmer at least 30 minutes, and up to 3 hours to let flavors develop.
- Add water (or a little red wine) if necessary to keep the sauce from getting too dry.
- Remove the bay leaf before assembling the casserole.
- Make spaghetti according to package directions, adding 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the boiling water to keep noodles from sticking together. Cook until al dente (firm, not mushy) and drain well.
- While spaghetti is cooking, make creamy cheese and onion layer by mixing the cream cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream together in a food processor or blender until smooth and well combined.
- Stir in the green onions.
- Oil a large bowl or 2-quart casserole with 2 teaspoon olive oil. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Assemble casserole by adding 1/2 of spaghetti noodles to bottom of casserole, drizzle with about 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, top with 1/2 of creamy cheese and onion mixture, then 1/2 of tomato sauce.
- Repeat, ending with tomato sauce on top of casserole. Poke a dinner knife into the finished casserole in 4 to 6 places and wriggle it around to allow some of the tomato sauce to work its way into the noodle and cheese layers.
- Bake, uncovered, about 30 minutes.
Yield: 6 servings