What To Do With Italian Leftovers

Baked Spaghetti2

After we made Eggplant Rollatini, I had about a half cup of ricotta cheese, a three to four ounce chunk of fresh mozzarella, and a half box of cooked spaghetti leftover. These paltry remains may only amount to a few dollars’ worth of food, but the Great Depression-era mindset passed on to me by my parents won’t allow me to throw away unspoiled food. With no immediate plan in mind, I put the leftovers in the freezer for future use.

Fast forward a few weeks, and the ricotta, mozzarella and spaghetti are discovered. Along with some tomato sauce and frozen cocktail meatballs, we can make a meal for two out of it. Now for some recipe ideas.

If I wanted to keep things really simple, placing the spaghetti and ricotta in a casserole dish and topping with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese would get the job done. Instead, I’ll take a page from a lasagna recipe and enhance the dish with a Béchamel and ricotta sauce.

Baked Spaghetti

Béchamel (half the typical amount)

  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 1 Tablespoon Parmigiana cheese
  • 1 Teaspoon minced garlic
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • Pinch of pepper (white if you have it)

You know the drill, but just in case you’re new to making sauces:

Use your smallest sauce pot for this half recipe. Melt the butter, add the flour, whisk it together so that there are no flour clumps, and be really careful not to burn it. Add the milk slowly and let it simmer and thicken for 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining ingredients, simmer for another minute, and remove the pot from the heat.

Ricotta Mixture

  • ½ Cup Ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Teaspoon of parsley
  • A few leaves of fresh basil, or a half teaspoon of dried
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

Mix all of the ingredients together.

Casserole Assembly

  • 3 ounces of Mozzarella cheese
  • 6 frozen cocktail-size meatballs, cooked and cut in half
  • ½ Cup Tomato Sauce

This pasta dish will taste just fine without the meatballs, but you may have someone in the family who asks, “Where’s the meat?” In that case, it’s handy to keep a bag of frozen cocktail meatballs to add meat to a pasta dish on the fly.

Cook the frozen meatballs according to the instructions on the bag and cut them in half.

Mix the béchamel sauce and ricotta mixture together. Combine with the spaghetti, then lay it out evenly in a small baking dish.

Lay the meatball halves across the top. Slice the mozzarella cheese and lay it over the meatballs. Cover with tomato sauce.

Cover with foil and cook in a 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes.

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