I'm trying to think of meatless meals to serve once in a while, but it's hard to come up with appealing dishes that have protein in them. This recipe was good, but the kids found it way too peppery (red, probably, but possibly also black). And frankly, if I make it again, I will probably just go with spaghetti sauce from a jar. I don't think the homemade sauce really enhances something like this all that much.
1 lb. spaghetti, broken in half
4 Tbsp olive oil, divided use
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 (28-oz.) cans whole tomatoes, undrained
1 tsp crushed red pepper
2 tsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp brown sugar
½ tsp black pepper
1 lb. shredded mozzarella
¼ cup grated Parmesan
Heat the oven to 350°. Spray a deep 9x13" baking dish with nonstick spray.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes or until the noodles are not quite tender. Strain into a colander and then return to the pot. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp of the olive oil. Toss well and set aside.
In a large saucepan, heat the remaining 3 Tbsp of oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Crush the tomatoes with your hands and add them with their juices to the pan, along with the red pepper, oregano, brown sugar, black pepper, and a generous pinch of salt. Bring the sauce to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until the mixture thickens. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like.
Ladle enough tomato sauce in the bottom of the baking dish to make a thin layer. Add a layer of spaghetti, using one-third of the mixture, tucking spaghetti into the corners of the dish. Cover with sauce, one-third of the mozzarella, then continue layering. Sprinkled all of the Parmesan on top.
Set the dish on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes or until sauce is bubbling at the edges and the top is browned.