Baked Pizza Spaghetti: A Comforting Culinary Delight

Imagine the soothing aroma of a classic Italian kitchen filling your home, blending the heartwarming scents of rich marinara sauce, melted mozzarella, and savory pepperoni. Our Baked Pizza Spaghetti is a delightful fusion of two beloved dishes, making it a perfect family meal or an indulgent treat for a cozy night in. Let’s embark on a culinary journey that transforms simple ingredients into a comforting masterpiece.

Ingredients Overview

To achieve the perfect Baked Pizza Spaghetti, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • Spaghetti: 1 (8 ounce) package, broken into 2-inch pieces. The foundation of our dish, offering a tender yet firm bite.
  • Mozzarella Cheese: 2 cups shredded, divided. This gooey, melted goodness ties everything together.
  • Milk: ¼ cup. Adds creaminess to the spaghetti mixture.
  • Egg: 1 large, beaten. Helps bind the ingredients.
  • Salt: ¼ teaspoon. Enhances the overall flavor.
  • Garlic Salt: ¼ teaspoon. Adds a subtle garlic flavor.
  • Spaghetti Sauce: 1 (16 ounce) jar. The rich, tomatoey base of our pizza topping.
  • Dried Oregano: 1 teaspoon. Infuses an authentic Italian taste.
  • Dried Basil: ¼ teaspoon. Complements the oregano for a balanced herb flavor.
  • Pepperoni Sausage: 4 ounces, sliced. Provides a delicious, savory topping.

Step-by-Step Cooking Instructions

  1. Prepare Your Oven and Baking Dish: Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray to ensure easy removal of the baked spaghetti.
  2. Cook the Spaghetti: Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the broken spaghetti pieces and cook until tender yet firm to the bite, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process and prevent sticking.
  3. Mix the Base Ingredients: In a large bowl, combine ½ cup of shredded mozzarella, ¼ cup of milk, the beaten egg, ¼ teaspoon of salt, and ¼ teaspoon of garlic salt. Stir until well mixed.
  4. Combine and Spread: Add the drained spaghetti to the bowl and mix until the spaghetti is evenly coated with the cheese mixture. Spread this mixture into the prepared baking dish.
  5. Initial Bake: Place the baking dish in the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes. This initial baking helps set the spaghetti base.
  6. Layer the Sauce and Cheese: Remove the dish from the oven and reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spread the spaghetti sauce evenly over the baked spaghetti mixture. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of dried oregano and ¼ teaspoon of dried basil. Top with the remaining 1 ½ cups of shredded mozzarella cheese.
  7. Add the Pepperoni: Arrange the pepperoni slices over the cheese, covering as much surface area as possible for that perfect pizza look and taste.
  8. Final Bake: Return the dish to the oven and bake until the cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes. Let the dish stand for 5 minutes before cutting to allow it to set.

Tips for a Seamless Cooking Experience

  • Ingredient Quality: Use high-quality mozzarella and a good brand of spaghetti sauce for the best flavor.
  • Spaghetti Prep: Breaking the spaghetti into smaller pieces ensures even baking and easier serving.
  • Cheese Distribution: For an extra cheesy experience, consider adding an additional ½ cup of mozzarella in the final step.
  • Pepperoni: If you prefer a less greasy top, pat the pepperoni slices with a paper towel before adding them to the dish.

Storage and Reheating Tips

  • Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Reheating: To reheat, place a serving in the microwave and heat on medium power for 2-3 minutes, or until warmed through. For a crispy top, reheat in the oven at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for about 10-15 minutes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I use whole wheat or gluten-free pasta? A: Absolutely! Whole wheat or gluten-free pasta can be used without altering the cooking method. Just ensure it’s cooked to the right tenderness.

Q: Can I add other toppings? A: Yes, feel free to customize with your favorite pizza toppings like olives, bell peppers, or mushrooms. Just add them along with the pepperoni.

Q: Can this dish be made ahead of time? A: Yes, you can prepare the dish up to the final baking step and refrigerate it. When ready to bake, bring it to room temperature and then bake as directed.

Q: Is there a vegetarian version? A: To make it vegetarian, simply omit the pepperoni and add your favorite veggies or vegetarian sausage.

By following these steps and tips, you’ll create a delicious and comforting Baked Pizza Spaghetti that is sure to become a favorite in your household. Enjoy the harmonious blend of spaghetti and pizza in every bite, and don’t forget to share your culinary triumph with friends and family!

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