Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Remembering My Grandma Lee & Her Famous Baked Spaghetti

Grandma Lee & Me

Friday would be my grandmothers’ birthday.  Yes, I have the punctuation in the proper place.  Both of my grandmothers were born on April 29th and I've been thinking of them a lot this week.  And, of course, thinking of the food my grandmas cooked and baked. Both were famous for different dishes – don't all grandmas have a specialty?  Grandma Lee’s coleslaw was my dad’s very favorite thing.  Her baked spaghetti was mine.  It was a Christmas Eve tradition and a big helping of her spaghetti on a plate with salad and bread was the most kid friendly meal ever. There were always lots of other foods on the buffet, but I would be hard pressed to remember any of them. 

I often make a baked vegetarian layered pasta (that I’ve been meaning to post) and realized that I could tweak it into a gluten free version of Grandma Lee’s Baked Spaghetti very easily.  Even easier was turning it into a one pot meal and making clean up a snap.

Gluten free pasta certainly varies in texture and quality.  Some of it has great "real pasta" texture when cooked and some of it turns to a mushy mess if you boil it just a tad too long.  By mixing the sauce with plenty of water and quickly adding pasta before baking you can use less expensive brown rice pasta which will absorb the sauce and bake up beautifully.  No stirring makes all the difference.  You can use this method stove top as well - which is what I often do with penne and marinara you just won't have a crispy browned top.  Using cast iron (as I did) when cooking tomatoes leeches extra iron into you food which is great if you need to boost your iron levels. 

Grandma Lee’s Gluten Free Baked Spaghetti
 Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a six quart or larger stove top/oven safe pot brown:

1 lb. Ground Beef
1 Medium Onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of Garlic, finely minced

When browned add:

1 teaspoon Oregano
½ teaspoon Dried Red Pepper Flakes (optional – Grandma wouldn’t have)
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon Salt
1 28 ounce can Organic Diced Tomatoes in Juice
2 tomato cans full of water

Stir well and let it start to simmer.

Then take:

1 lb. Brown Rice Spaghetti and break it into pieces.  Stir into the pot and push any stray strands of spaghetti under the liquid.  Make sure your lid is oven safe and cover.  (If you have any question about that you can use foil to seal the top).

Place into oven and bake for about 30 minutes. The pasta should have absorbed a lot of the liquid by now.  Remove lid and bake for 30 more and let the top get nicely browned and a bit more liquid evaporates.  This took about 30 more minutes. 

We served it up with a salad and Joe had a big gluten free roll.

The verdict?  Joe loved the texture of the pasta, the browned top and flavor but not so much the diced tomatoes – he’d prefer a puree.  I liked the chunky diced tomatoes but think the puree would be a bit more like Grandma’s so that’s what we’ll do next time.

Next post - Grandma Dot's cake. "The Cake".  I found her hand typed recipe earlier this month and cannot wait to play with it.  Can I make it gluten free???  Will it still taste the same? =D


gabbyfek said...

i LOVE this, chacha.
what a great way to remember your grandmas.

chacha said...