Saturday, November 29, 2014

Spaghetti Pot Pies with Spinach, Ricotta and Optional Ground Beef

I sort of fell in love with baked spaghetti pies this summer when I made the Mediterranean eggplant pasta cake. That is still definitely my favorite spaghetti pie recipe, but when I saw my new obsession blog had a recipe for miniature spaghetti pot pies, I knew I had to try.

The coolest thing about this recipe is that it's from Kitchen Treaty's One Meal, Two Ways section; she gives instructions on how and when to separate the meal into half that stays vegetarian, and half that you add meat to, so you can please vegetarians and carnivores alike with the same meal.  Is that not genius!?  Here's the funny part: Mark requested that I not add the ground beef.  I think he is secretly a vegetarian and just doesn't want to admit it.  His dad called him out on it at Thanksgiving so he made sure to down extra turkey and short ribs, but the man refuses to eat any ground meat or sausage.  He's well on his way to the veggie life and I'm loving it.

Anyway, back to the pies.  These little guys are baked in individual ramekins (make sure you keep track which colors are meatless, if you're adding meat to half!) and they have layers of goodness.  Sauce on the bottom (with or without beef), then a ricotta-spinach mixture, then a slice of provolone, then the spaghetti.  It turns into a crunchy "crust," hence the pot pie name.  It's basically a little ramekin full of Italian glory.  As you can see, they went over pretty well here at the Ajemian house.

Can we please talk about how Thanksgiving break is almost over?!  And then it's almost December!?  And there are 9 inches of snow out there?!  Craziness.


spaghetti pot pies with spinach, ricotta and optional ground beef
from Kitchen Treaty
makes 4 large pot pies or 6 medium

1/2 pound spaghetti noodles
2 eggs
1/2 cup + 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
3 cups Italian tomato sauce or marinara sauce
1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 ounces (4 - 6 ounces) Provolone cheese
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
if adding meat to half the pot pies:
1 pound lean ground beef


1) Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Place 4 large (12 ounces) or 6 medium (10 ounces) ramekins on a baking sheet.  Boil spaghetti noodles in a large pot until al dente, according to package directions.  Drain and return to pot.  Set aside to cool.

2) Beat the eggs and add them to the noodles, along with 1/2 cup Parmesan.  Toss until all the spaghetti is covered with the egg and cheese.

3) Brown ground beef and drain any fat.  Add 1 cup of the tomato sauce and stir. Set aside.

4) In a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, spinach, mozzarella, nutmeg, and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper.

5) In a small bowl, stir together the 1/2 cup bread crumbs and 1/4 Parmesan cheese with a spoon.

6) Divide the ingredients among the prepared ramekins.  Start with the Italian tomato sauce with or without ground beef.  Drop 3 - 4 tablespoonfuls of the ricotta mixture into each ramekin, adding an extra tablespoonful to the vegetarian versions.  Lay one slice of provolone over the top of each, tun divide the spaghetti noodle mixture evenly between each ramekin.  Using clean hands, gather and press the noodles firmly into the ramekin, taking care not to squeeze out any of the contents.  Spoon the breadcrumbs over the top of each pie.

7) Bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until bubbling and the spaghetti topping is golden brown around the edges.  Let cool for 5 - 10 minutes until the ramekins have cooled a bit.  Serve.

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