Spaghetti Pot Pies with Spinach, Ricotta, & Optional Ground Beef
Have you ever had a spaghetti pie? You know, spaghetti noodles are mixed with eggs and cheese and pressed into a pie plate to act as the “crust,” then filled with sauce and cheese? It’s terrific comfort food. The spaghetti packs together to create the perfect texture, and gets kind of crispy around on the edges. And then it’s baked with sauce and cheeses. Yum.
Yep. Spaghetti pot pie. Inside you’ll find Italian tomato sauce and spoonfuls of delicious, melty ricotta, mozzarella and spinach, set off with little grate of nutmeg. The sauce and the spinach-ricotta mixture are then topped with a slice of provolone cheese, which not only gives the pot pie a nice smoky note, it also helps when you compact the spaghetti “crust”.
Let’s talk about the spaghetti crust. You simply mix the pasta with a couple of eggs and grated Parmesan, then top each pot pie with a big spoonful of noodles. Then you press it down, creating something akin to the “crust” you get with traditional spaghetti pies. Except on top.
I add Parmesan panko breadcrumbs to the top to add to the crust effect. Or maybe that was just an excuse to add Parmesan breadcrumbs … I love them so.
I make these in individual ramekins; that way, I can mix browned ground beef into some of the sauce for the meat-eater in my family. But please note: this is one where if you don’t use different colored bakeware (and if you’re a bit of an airhead like yours truly), you might lose track of which have meat and which don’t. The last time I made these, I mixed some Italian seasoning into the breadcrumbs that topped the vegetarian versions. It worked perfectly as a little green telltale sign that those were meatless – and it tasted great, too.
Spaghetti Pot Pies with Spinach, Ricotta & Optional Ground Beef
An upside-down spaghetti pie filled with Italian tomato sauce, ricotta, mozzarella, spinach, provolone cheese, and ground beef for the meat-eaters.
- 1/2 pound (8 ounces) spaghetti noodles
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 3 cups Italian tomato sauce or marinara sauce (jarred or homemade both work great)
- 1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
- 1 1/2 cups (about 12 ounces) frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg or more to taste
- 4 ounces (4 - 6 slices) Provolone cheese
- 1/2 cup panko-style breadcrumbs
- Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
If adding meat to half of the pot pies:
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place four large (Approx. 12 ounces for one large serving per person) or six medium (10 ounces or so for one slightly more reasonable serving per person) ramekins on a baking sheet.
- Boil spaghetti noodles in a large pot until al dente, according to package directions. Drain and return to pot. Set aside to cool.
- Beat the eggs and add them to the noodles, along with 1/2 cup Parmesan. Toss until all the spaghetti is covered with the egg and cheese.
- Brown ground beef and drain any fat. Add 1 cup of the Italian tomato sauce or marinara and stir. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, spinach, mozzarella cheese, nutmeg, and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper.
- In a small bowl, stir together the 1/2 cup bread crumbs and 1/4 Parmesan cheese with a spoon.
- Divide the ingredients among the prepared ramekins. Start with the Italian tomato sauce or marinara with or without ground beef. Drop 3 - 4 tablespoonfuls of the ricotta mixture into each ramekin, adding an extra tablespoonful to the vegetarian versions if making both. Lay one slice of provolone over the top of each, then divide the spaghetti noodle mixture evenly between each ramekin. Using clean hands, gather and press the noodles firmly into the ramekin, taking care not to squeeze out any of the contents. Spoon the breadcrumbs over the top of each pot pie.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 25 - 30 minutes or until bubbling and the spaghetti topping is golden brown around the edges.
- Let cool for 5 - 10 minutes until the ramekins have cooled a bit. Serve.