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recipe card
December 13, 2007

main dish
Pasta bake

My husband is a vegetarian, and I eat meat, so sometimes it means I'll make two main dishes. If I do that, I try to make them similar, or do something that I can add meat to later. In this case, I've taken a pasta dish and made it the same method, but with two different pans.

Tip: You could adjust this to make only the meat version or only the vegetarian version, too.

Common Ingredients

These items will all be divided in half, part for the vegetarian and part for the meat versions

  • Pasta - A mixture of dry noodles to total 2 1/2 cups: we use a combo of macaroni noodles, spirals (rotini), and medium or small shells
  • Spaghetti sauce - we use 1 jar of Prego's Traditional style
  • Cottage cheese - 16 oz container, we use 1%
  • Mozzarella cheese - 8oz shredded
  • Parmesan cheese - about 1 cup shredded
  • White Sauce
    • 2T butter or margerine
    • 2T flour
    • 1 cup milk (we use 1%)
    • 1/4t nutmeg
    • freshly ground pepper, to taste (for us, that's about 10 grinds of the pepper mill)

Meat sauce

  • 1/2lb ground beef
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • dried basil, to taste

Vegetarian sauce

Boil water and cook pasta as directed on the package. If the times for cooking vary between the different pasta you are mixing, add the one with the shortest cooking time slightly after the others.

To make the meat sauce: brown hamburger in a large frying pan or skillet over medium heat. Season with pepper and basil. Cook until there is no pink, and drain off the fat if needed. Combine with 1/2 a can of spaghetti sauce and cook together for several minutes.

To make the vegetarian sauce: brown vegeburger in a separate frying pan or skillet over medium heat with the oil. Season with pepper and basil. Add 1/2 a can of spaghetti sauce and cook together for several minutes.

To make the white sauce: melt butter in a sauce pan over medium low heat. Add flour and cook for several minutes till bubbly. Slowly add the milk, stirring throughout. Season with nutmeg and pepper, and then stir constantly until thick. Remove from heat.

Preheat your oven to 350°. You'll need two pans - I use a glass pie pan and a glass bread pan and just build the pile on one side of the dish because I don't have anything that's just slightly smaller. A small square pan would probably be perfect.

Building the pasta bake

This dish is built similar to lasagna, with layers.

  • Put 1/3-1/2 cup of sauce in the pan to help keep the dish loose and easy to serve.
  • Now divide up your noodles and white sauce into 6 equal portions, and divide your meat/vegetarian sauces into 3 equal portions each.
  • Start to layer the dish as follows:
    • noodles - spread out
    • white sauce - small dollops scooped on
    • meat or vegetarian sauce - gently spread over the white sauce
    • cottage cheese - small dollops
    • parmesan cheese - just a sprinkling
    • mozzerella cheese - a heavy sprinkling
  • Repeat this layer sequence twice. For the third and final layer, move the meat/vegetarian sauce above the cottage cheese, and parmesan. Add extra mozzerella on the top.

Cover the dishes with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Take the foil off and cook 10 minutes more to brown the cheesy top.

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