Well.. This is the first recipe I ever tried.. 😉 I remembered when I asked my mom to made this but she refused: “Go and try by yourself..!” Flattened, I then made a batch of this and got surprise. It was (surprisingly) good!! I packed some portions for my lunchbox the following day, and let some friends tried…and They loved it! It was one of those defining moments that inspired me to cook later..^ ^
Anyway, this baked spaghetti actually needs one thing: a GOOD bolognese sauce.. and in this stage, you can make your own decision: making sauce by yourself or buying a good-quality bolognese sauce in a jar (it can be found easily in supermarket today).
A bolognese sauce is an Italian classic, and in its country it’s made in many different ways.. but I do like Jamie Oliver‘s way to cook the sauce.. It’s simple and tasty! Once you can cook this sauce, you can always use that same sauce for many other things, like layering up a lasagne… As Jamie said in his book “Jamie’s Ministry of Food”: “With so many options, it’s well worth bagging up any leftover sauce and freezing it for another day”. I do what he said…
Ingredients for Pasta:
– 250 gr dried spaghetti
– 500 ml boiled water in a big pan
Ingredients for Bolognese Sauce:
– 500 gr good-quality minced beef
(or you can use minced pork, or a mixture of the two)
– 800 gr chopped tomatoes
(if you’re too lazy or not in the mood of chopping something, you can “chop” them roughly in your blender or processor)
– about 800 ml water
– 2 medium onions
– 2 cloves of garlic
– 2 carrots
– 2 sticks of celery
– 2 heaped teaspoons dried oregano
– a small bunch of fresh basil
(you can found fresh basil leaves in certain supermarkets, such as: Food Hall, Hero, Kem Chicks, or Bali Deli. But if you can’t, feel free to substitute them with the dry one)
– salt and freshly ground black pepper
– 50 gr grated Parmesan cheese or use Cheddar if you like
(I mean: Kraft Cheese, if you don’t know the brand ;p)
– olive oil
Ingredients for Cheese Sauce:
– 2 tablespoons margarine or butter
– 50 gr plain flour
– 600 ml milk
– 100 gr grated Cheddar cheese
– 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
– 1/8 teaspoon salt
How to cook your pasta properly:
I know, i know… You might think that cooking dried pasta is same as cooking instant noodles.. No, you’re not wrong.. But here some tips (that I got from some chefs) to make your pasta tastes better:
- Look for good brands dried pasta, like: Barilla, San Remo or La Fonte Remember that you get what you pay for..
- ALWAYS salt your cooking water! As Italians said that: “the cooking water should be as salty as Mediterranean Sea”. Oh, and put your salt in the water after the water boils.. If you put the salt before, the water will boil faster and then evaporate the salt..
- Never add your pasta until the water is boiling fast..
- After dropping your pasta in the boiling water, mix it round with a spoon, and place a lid on the pan until the water comes back to the boil.
- There’s no need to add olive oil to your cooking water.. It’s just a cowboy trick.. Give some attentions to your pasta, and it won’t ever stick..
- Cook your pasta “al dente“. Simply follow the packet instructions about the cooking time.
How to cook your beautiful bolognese sauce:
- Peel and finely chop the onions, garlic, carrots, and celery
- Add 2 lugs of olive oil into a big pan, then add the veggies. Cook and stir them until softened and lightly colored (for around 7 minutes)
- Stir in the minced meat and chopped tomatoes, then add the water
- Finely chop the basil stalks (keep the basil leaves in the fridge for later), then add them into the pan
- Season with salt and pepper, and bring the sauce to the boil
- Turn the heat down and simmer with a lid on (for about an hour. Don’t forget to stir it every now and again)
- Remove the pan from the heat, and add grated parmesan
- Stir in some basil leaves, and have taste (add more salt and/or pepper if needed)
How to cook the Cheese sauce:
- Melt the margarine/butter in the pan, then add the flour
- Stir them for a while then quickly add the milk into the pan
- Mix thoroughly, and add the grated cheese
- Season with salt and pepper
- Bring the sauce to the boil (Your pan will give a lil explosion. When you see it, remove the pan immediately)
- Preheat the oven to 180′ C
- Rub 1 liter ovenproof dish with margarine or butter, and snugly sit your cooked spaghetti into the dish
- Pour the bolognese sauce on top of spaghetti (pour adequate amount of the sauce.. Don’t overfill the dish! Remember, you can keep your leftover sauce in the freezer)
- Finally, pour the cheese sauce on top of the bolognese sauce.
- Put it into the oven, and cook for 45 minutes or so..