This spaghetti pie recipe is from one of my Mother's closest friends, Linda Priddy. I am lucky to have a few of her recipes in my repertoire, and this is one of them. It's full of flavor, easier to make than a lasagna and completely moreish. You think that just one slice is going to be enough, but before you know it, you've polished off an entire pan of this pie.
I also feel blessed to have had a family that we were able to spend so much time with growing up. My sister and I spent summers with Linda and Steve's two boys, Joel and Matt. We played golf together, swam together for the local swim team, and spent fantastic weekends at their lake house in southern Indiana. Joel and Matt were constantly building or creating something, like an entire paint ball business in the woods behind their house, and we were always invited to join. Unfortunately, I remember shooting Matt at point blank range with a paint ball gun, and that was the end of my invitations. I also have fond memories of our families skiing together in the eighties, and we still have embarrassing photographic evidence of our neon jackets and bad hair.
As fate would have it, all four of us attended Indiana University, and although Joel and I were the only two the same age, we all loved getting together. Sadly, Joel passed away after I had been in London for just a year or so. Linda has always been a great inspiration for me in the kitchen. She hosted Christmas Eve parties every year and her mini-wieners were my favorite. She was constantly catering for her boys, and I admired that greatly.
I can't remember the last time I cooked this spaghetti pie, but my sister mentioned this week that she had made it again and I ran straight out to get the ingredients. It reminds me a little of my Grandmother's lasagna that uses cottage cheese as a layer. I'm not sure how authentic adding cottage cheese to Italian dishes is, but I am all for it.
After a few tests, both my sister and I agreed that spicy Italian sausage was the way to go, but you can use sweet or ground beef if you prefer. I added red pepper flakes and it really made it sing, although you can make it as hot as you'd like. I also used a good Whole Foods store-bought marinara and was able to whip this together in no time. You can make it up in advance and then pop it in the oven for 30 minutes until all of the asiago cheese is bubbly and gorgeously brown.
Linda's Spaghetti Pie
8 oz spaghetti, broken in half
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup grated pecorino or parmesan
1 cup grated asiago
2 free range eggs, beaten
1 lb sausage or ground beef (I use spicy Italian)
12 oz cottage cheese
24 oz jar marinara or spaghetti sauce
small handful of chopped parsley and basil
1 sprig of thyme, leaves removed
2 crushed garlic cloves
1/2 tsp dried chilli or red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
Preheat your oven to 350F. Grease an 8x12 baking dish with a little olive oil. Cook the spaghetti according to the package instructions and then add the olive oil and let it cool slightly.
While you're cooking the pasta, brown your meat in a skillet and drain the fat. Add the crushed thyme, garlic and chilli flakes. Let it cook for about a minute and then add the marinara sauce. Season at this point and add the parsley and basil. Bring to simmer and let it cook for about 5 minutes. Take it off the heat and let it cool slightly.
Beat the eggs in a bowl and add the 1/2 cup of parmesan to it. Season with 1/2 tsp of salt and pepper. Mix into the spaghetti and layer the bottom of your dish with the pasta.
Spread the cottage cheese over the pasta and season it with a little pepper. Top the cottage cheese with the meat and marinara mixture. Sprinkle the asiago cheese on top.
Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. Serve with a good Italian salad and bread.