Company Casserole

You’ll Need:

Tomato Sauce Layer
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound lean ground beef
2 to 4 large cloves garlic (to taste)
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

Spaghetti Layer
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 pound dry spaghetti noodles

Procedures : 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 saut 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 1tablespoon 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. Preheat 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.

Makes 6 servings

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