Nonna’s simple baked spaghetti recipe
STEPS 6 INGREDIENTS 8 TIME 45 MINS
This recipe was originally taught to my mamma-in-law Marisa by her mother, Linda, who was my wife's grandma (gran is ‘Nonna’ in Italian – thus this page’s nonna-ish name). Totally authentic stuff.
Luckily for you and me, this dish hasn’t got any more complex over time (in fact, I'd bet it's one of the easiest baked spaghetti recipes out there)...
... just chop the ingredients, fry the toms, cook the pasta and throw it all in the oven. Out comes a tomato-heavy mound of crispy-topped pasta that’s nothing fancy... just mightily moreish.
Ingredients: (For a printable 'simple baked spaghetti' shopping list, click here, or right-click this link and choose 'Save target/link as' to save the file for later.)
600g/21oz cherry (tiny) tomatoes
2 teaspoons of dried oregano
50g/1.7oz dried breadcrumbs (buy a tub)
Knob of butter (10g/0.3oz)
Clove of garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
Large, deep pasta pan
Frying pan with lid
Oven dish or lasagna pan (try this sturdy steel Cuisinart)
Optional: Small/handheld electric mixer/blender (I recommend this )
Optional: Vegetable peeler
Optional: Potato masher
STEP 1 - As usual, we’ll make things super-simple by preparing this simple baked spaghetti’s ingredients.
- Take your cherry tomatoes. Wash half of these and cut into halves (quarters if they are big enough to handle this).
- Boil a kettle and drop the remaining tomatoes in a bowl of boiling water. Leave for 3 minutes then drain away the water (carefully!), rinse in cold water, and remove the skins with your hands.
Tip: If some of the toms haven’t already begun to peel, just knick their skin with a knife. The skin will then contract and come off easily.
- Chop the ends off the garlic clove. Peel it then chop in half longways. Cut or pull out the hard white central spine. Chop the remaining garlic as finely as you can.
STEP 2 - Read all of steps 2 and 3 before starting step 2 (because we’ll start step 3 while cooking through step 2 – don’t worry, it’s not complicated).
- Cover half of your frying pan in olive oil. Crank up to a medium heat until the oil is hot (but, smoking is too hot!). Add half the garlic for 30 secs, then add the peeled batch of tomatoes.
- Cover the pan and fry, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 mins (until the toms have softened).
- Mash up the toms with a potato peeler or fork. Simmer for another 3 or 4 minutes – we’re breaking the toms down into a sauce now.
- When this time is up, mash the toms some more. Whiz them in a blender/mixer for 30 secs if you like… just be careful with that hot oil!
STEP 3 - Whilst your tomato sauce cooks, grab a mixing bowl and add the other tomatoes, garlic, a tablespoon of oil, 2 teaspoons of oregano, and ½ a teaspoon of salt.
- When the tomato sauce is cooked and mashed, add this to the mixing bowl and stir well.
STEP 4 - Using a couple of kettles (for speed), get your pasta pan full of boiling water. Stir in 3 handfuls of salt (to bring out the taste) and a tablespoon of olive oil (to avoid sticking).
- Check the spaghetti packet’s cooking time. Cook this for 3 quarters or its recommended cooking time, stirring regularly.
Note: This ¾ cooking time ensures that the spaghetti is firm to the tooth (‘al dente’) – because don’t’ forget it’s getting cooked in the oven too.
- Turn your oven up to 180C (350-degrees Fahrenheit).
STEP 5 - While the pasta cooks, prepare the oven dish:
- ‘Smear’ the bottom of the dish with olive oil. Just use a folded piece of kitchen paper to smear oil around.
- Sprinkle breadcrumbs to lightly cover the oily base.
- When the spaghetti’s time is up, drain this and cover by stirring thoroughly in the mixing bowl.
STEP 6 - Spoon the pasta into your oven dish.
- Drop 4 ‘curls’ of butter evenly on the top (either cut thin slices with a knife or use a veg peeler to get the curls).
- Lightly cover the surface in any remaining breadcrumbs.
- Cook for 15-20 minutes. Until the surface is slightly golden, or crisp to the touch (of a fork). Don’t worry about the odd black spaghetti end, these crunch something lovely!
Not tricky was it? It really is one of the most simple baked spaghetti recipes around...
Enjoyed this simple baked spaghetti?
Then why not add prawns next time? Here’s how…
• At step 2 of this recipe, fry the prawns first. Then after 1 min, just add the garlic and continue as suggested.
• Later in the recipe, simply ignore the part about using a food mixer/blender to make the sauce… (you don’t want to blend prawns!). Just mash the toms in the pan with a fork instead.
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