This casserole is like a cross between lasagna and spaghetti. It is super easy to assemble (much easier than lasagna) and loved by the whole family, although some of my clan prefer a cheesy version without the meat. You can make it earlier in the day and just pop it into the oven at dinner time.
The recipe comes from family in North Dakota where hot dishes are the preferred name for casseroles. I love making one-dish meals for my family: the simplicity makes me happy and cleanup is a breeze. And hot dishes definitely say comfort food to me.
I’ve made this recipe with zucchini spirals instead of pasta and the gluten-free, lower carb version is delicious. Make sure to saute the zucchini for a few minutes before assembling the hot dish.
You can even make it dairy free by substituting olive oil for the butter and replacing the cheeses with more veggies and spices. My favorite pasta that I’ve tried in this recipe is angel hair. Make sure you don't overcook the angel hair; al dente is a must.
Using your favorite jar sauce makes this come together in a snap, but it is really special with homemade sauce that’s been simmering all day, too. I usually add meat to my sauce and sometimes mushrooms, sweet red peppers, crushed red peppers, garlic, chopped zucchini or eggplant. It’s fun to experiment or just use up ingredients that are in the fridge.
I pair the hot dish with a crusty French baguette or garlic bread and a green salad. Enjoy!