Spaghetti Pie

Have you ever experienced something truly great but from the moment you walked away from the experience you knew it would be hard to convince others that it was something they would want to experience too? I suppose sitting through a 24-hour marathon of your favorite sitcom would be akin to this sensation, but so too is Spaghetti Pie. Spaghetti Pie is like your old, spinster Great-Aunt Fran: beautiful and lovely on the inside, but not too much to look at on the outside.

Looking (at best) like a pie plate full of solidified spaghetti and (at worst) like something belonging in a haunted house dungeon display, the dish certainly requires dressing up for photos. Even its name is a dichotomy of terms — you wouldn’t think to put the two together: spaghetti + pie = ewww.

That being said, it’s a very easy weeknight meal (maybe even easy as pie) and — while it won’t win any beauty contests — you’ll probably want seconds. I first came across this recipe a few months ago in an issue of Cook’s Country Magazine, though it definitely tastes and looks like something from one of those church cookbooks of yore. I’ve made it a couple times since then, always with good results, so it definitely gets four stars as a reliable recipe.

IMG_0332

The recipe calls for pepperoni, but you could use the same amount of a different meat or meat substitute — just make sure it’s as potent and flavor-packed as pepperoni. The use of whole cream turned my head, at first, but after one bite I knew why it was an essential ingredient (c’mon… 3/4 cup divided into 6 servings can’t be all that bad, anyway). Besides, a lower fat milk product wouldn’t perform nearly as well in this instance.

My modifications to the recipe were mostly minor — I mainly beefed up the seasonings a bit. I’m a big fan of herbs and most recipes either leave them out or leave it up to the cook to decide. So, naturally, I couldn’t leave out some of my favorite herbal team members: thyme & oregano.

The main consideration is that you let the sauce reduce well enough and you don’t have the pasta cooked too far in advance so that you get just the right texture: too runny of a sauce and you’ll have an unsliceable pie plate full of runny spaghetti; if you have the pasta done long before the sauce is ready, you’ll have a sticky mass of gooey noodles that won’t allow the sauce and other ingredients to incorporate fully. (leave it to me to showcase the one way an easy dish is complicated)

IMG_0334

Spaghetti Pie
Serves 6

    12 ounces vermicelli (aka capellini, angel hair, thin spaghetti, etc.)
    4 ounces sliced pepperoni, chopped finely
    1 medium onion, chopped
    3 14.5oz cans diced tomatoes, undrained
    1/2 teaspoon dried basil
    1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
    1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    salt, to taste
    3/4 cup heavy cream
    2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend (or plain mozzarella if you prefer)

    Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Coat a 9 or 10-inch deep dish pie plate with cooking spray. Bring about 4 quarts of lightly salted water to boil in a large pot.

    In a large skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat, cook the pepperoni until beginning to crisp (about 2-3 minutes). Add onion; cook until softened. Stir in the tomatoes, herbs, pepper flakes, and salt (if desired). Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until sauce thickens and reduces to about 4 cups (this will take about 10 minutes).

    Meanwhile, add the pasta to the boiling salted water and cook just until al dente (not too soft because this still has to go into the oven). Drain the pasta then return it to the pot. Add 2 cups of the tomato sauce, the heavy cream, and shredded cheese; toss to combine. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pie plate and press with a spatula to flatten the surface (you’ll want it to completely take the shape of the pie plate).

    Bake slightly browned on top and bubbling (about 10-15 minutes). Let cool for 5 minutes before slicing. Top each slice with the remaining tomato sauce.

Advertisements

~ by Jason on June 3, 2010.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s