We wanted to transform this casserole into a quick and flavorful one-pot meal. We make the meat sauce, cook the pasta right in it, and broil the topping to a golden brown-all in one skillet.
Why This Recipe Works
Baked spaghetti seems like an easy dish, but boiling pasta, cooking the meat, making a meat sauce, transferring everything to a casserole dish, and baking requires too many pots and too much time for a weeknight meal. We wanted to make the meat sauce, cook the pasta right in it, and broil the topping to a golden brown—all in one pan. For our Skillet-Baked Spaghetti, we employed the test kitchen's technique of cooking the pasta in the skillet along with the sauce. Breaking the spaghetti into 2-inch pieces helped the pasta cook more evenly, and allows more to fit in the skillet. We added a few cups of water to the mixture to help the pasta cook more evenly and to keep the sauce from drying out. The meat sauce became diluted when we added water for the pasta, but we fixed that by swapping out some of the beef for Italian sausage to give the sauce more depth and complexity. Using a blend of shredded Italian cheeses like Parmesan, Asiago, and mozzarella gave our baked spaghetti a crust with a contrast of flavors and textures.