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We are officially in the throes of what’s being called a ‘bomb cyclone’ here in New Jersey and across the Northeast of the United States. The high temperature yesterday hovered somewhere around 14 F., schools and roads are closed today due to a snow storm with hurricane-like wind and Saturday is predicted to have a high temperature of 4 F. Yup, just 4 F. That means the windchill will probably feel something like what-the-@%*!!.
We are also back to reality after a long Winter recess. Getting myself and the kids up early for school the last few days has been a feat – so it would be fair to say that I am a little tired, chilled to the bone, and I just don’t want to cook tonight. In fact, I’d like it very much if someone else cooked and served me a piping hot supper while I stay cozy inside of a fort of warm blankets, or better yet bring it to me somewhere where it is Spring.
Since that daydream has a (very) short lifespan, the next best thing is a one-pot meal, specifically my One-Pot Cheesy Spaghetti Bake. One pot = less prep and less clean up. This is perfect for me tonight as I comfortably reside in the land of The Less To Do, The Better.
Before you make this though, make sure you have a pot large enough to accommodate the length of the pasta and the amount of liquids, with enough room to stir. I love this one, it’s a 5-quart cast iron enameled pot (and it comes in an array of colors), the sides are deep so it’s perfect for stirring and braising without worrying about a spillover. I use it all Winter long for soups and stews. The best part is that it can go from the stovetop or the oven and straight to the table.
One-Pot Cheesy Spaghetti Bake is the PERFECT weeknight meal. It has all the comfort elements: melted mozzarella, spaghetti, and wine – because, well, wine. Just go with me here, it’s January. Besides, the alcohol cooks out, imparting its full flavor and warm notes into the sauce, so it’s family friendly. If you follow me, you already know that I cook with wine a lot, because, well, wine.
I also tossed in a handful of chopped organic local red chard for an immunity boost. Red chard is loaded with all that good stuff like Thiamin, Folate, Zinc, Dietary Fiber, Vitamins A, C, E (Alpha Tocopherol), and K, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Manganese! Just to name a few.
Of course, you could add whatever leafy green you’d like – spinach or kale works beautifully too. If you have a picky eater and rather omit the leafy greens, that’s ok, too. I have a picky eater myself. He won’t eat this because it has cheese. Is this kid mine?!
Add this easy and comforting one-pot meal to your weekly Winter dinner rotation. Serve with warm crusty bread, your favorite red wine, and thick cozy socks (but, don’t eat those. They’re just for your keeping your toesies cozy).
For those of you reading this from inside of the thunder-snow, stay warm, friends!
I’d love to hear from you!
Leave me a comment below, I’d love to know what you think! You can also follow me on Instagram and share your creation with me if you make this! Don’t forget to tag me @chasingtheseasons so I can be sure to see it!
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One-Pot Cheesy Spaghetti Bake
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced (using a fine grater works well)
4 – 5 cups chicken broth, (start with 4 cups and keep a hot extra cup on hand if needed, as pasta textures vary)
1/2 cup red wine
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
12 ounce spaghetti (from a 16 ounce package)
Optional: Handful of red chard, chopped (center stems removed)
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
Olive oil for drizzling
- In a large pot (large enough to hold the uncooked pasta and liquids, I use a 5-quart enameled cast iron pot) over low-medium heat, add extra virgin olive oil until shimmery & hot. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes, noting that a little goes a long way. Cook until toasted, 1 minute or so;
- Add onion and sprinkle with salt. Saute until almost tender;
- Move the onions to the side of the pot and add the tomato paste to the center. Give it a little stir then allow it to sit and caramelize, about 3 minutes. Stir to combine the caramelized paste and onions;
- Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds;
- Remove from heat to add the wine, deglaze the pot and stir to incorporate all the ingredients. It may look a bit pasty, that’s ok;
- Add 4 cups of broth, Italian seasonings, salt and pepper, chard (optional) and the uncooked spaghetti. Stir often to prevent sticking. Keep an extra hot cup of broth on hand if the spaghetti should absorb too much. The end result should be loose and somewhat creamy, not soupy. Cook until just shy of al dente (firm to the bite), approx. 13 minutes – this will bake for a few minutes more under the broiler, so you don’t want it to be mush;
- Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and stir well to incorporate;
- Top evenly with shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake in the broiler until the cheese is melted and bubbling, approximately 2-3 minutes;
- Before serving, drizzle with olive oil and garnish with fresh oregano if desired. Spoon and serve! Pairs well with warm crusty rustic bread, a side salad and your favorite red wine.
Leftovers can be reheated in a skillet with a little pat of butter until the bottom of the spaghetti crisps up just ever so. Enjoy!
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