Then she freezes any leftovers and eats them all week for lunch or dinner. The recipe preparation is somewhat labor intensive and she was longing for a simpler version. I was concerned that the original recipe would not be suitable for the limited equipment available for cooking at college. So for Sarah I developed Simple Spaghetti Pie, using canned chicken instead of sautéed ground turkey, and making the casserole two layers instead of three. The ingredients are all convenient versions of pantry and fridge staples (jarred pasta sauce, pre-grated cheese, canned chicken, dried herbs) that Sarah will have no trouble finding in another town. Turns out that this version is so good that I am making it myself for the whole family.
The chicken has as much flavor as ground turkey, and provides protein, so one serving is a main meal. Some tips: be sure to rinse the rice pasta after cooking and make sure to drain it well so the casserole is not watery. The 24-ounce jar of pasta sauce is exactly enough if, at the end, you add ½ cup of water to the jar, put on the cap and shake it well.
The Parmesan cheese topping is optional.
- 1 (24-ounce) jar gluten-free marinara pasta sauce
- 1 (16-ounce) package gluten-free brown rice spaghetti, cooked, drained, rinsed
- 1 (12.5-ounce) can gluten-free chicken breast meat, drained, and flaked with fork
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning, divided
- 2 cups (8 ounces) grated mozzarella cheese, Soyrella, or casein-free nondairy alternative
- ½ cup water, or as needed, to rinse residual sauce in pasta jar
- Grated or shredded Parmesan, as needed, optional
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray a 9 by 13 by 2-inch glass baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Ladle ½ cup of the pasta sauce into the bottom, tilting the casserole to cover. Spread one-half of the cooked spaghetti over the sauce. Top with the flaked chicken, evenly distributed. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of the Italian seasoning.
- Top with 1 cup of the mozzarella, remaining seasoning, and 1 cup of the sauce.
- Repeat with the remaining spaghetti, remaining mozzarella and remaining sauce, rinsing out the jar to use any residual sauce clinging to jar sides and bottom. (It helps to replace the lid on the jar and shake well.)
- Sprinkle with Parmesan if desired.
- Spray a 12 by 14-inch piece of foil well with nonstick cooking spray. Cover the casserole with the sprayed side down. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil; return the casserole to the oven and bake, uncovered, until browned and bubbling, an additional 20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Cut the casserole 2 by 4 into eight pieces.
- Wrap leftover room-temperature serving pieces in plastic wrap and freeze.
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