It’s your lucky day because my mama has perfected her baked vermicelli and she is letting me share the recipe with all of you! This is unbelievably good. It’s a little similar to lasagna in that it’s a layered, baked pasta with ricotta but it’s a little easier and quicker to make than lasagna.
You’ll want to start this about 2.5 hours before you want to serve dinner but much of that is hands off time. The sauce simmers for one hour and the dish bakes for forty-five minutes and sits for fifteen.
The layering of this dish is quite fun! When I was little, my mom would always let me “help” by sprinkling the cheese on dishes like this. Just look at the ricotta being smooshed into the noodles. Are you drooling yet?
Speaking of cheese, don’t be tempted to use pre-grated mozzarella. It’s quite a different texture than a mozzarella ball so even though it’s a little tricky to grate mozzarella, it’s so worth it in this dish.
I don’t normally include quite so many prep photos but in this case, I think it’s very helpful to see what the layers look like. I hope you love this recipe as much as we do!
1 pound ground chuck
3/4 pound Italian sausage
1 cup onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
15 oz canned tomato sauce
3 1/2 cup tomato juice (found in the juice section)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
8 oz Vermicelli pasta (thin spaghetti)
15 oz Ricotta cheese
1 pound whole Mozzarella
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- Start the sauce about 2.5 hours before you want to serve dinner. Brown ground chuck, Italian sausage, and onions in a Dutch oven or large skillet. When meat is almost browned, add garlic and cooked for another 1-2 minutes. Drain any excess grease from pan and add the tomato sauce and juice, salt, pepper, and oregano and let simmer uncovered for one hour. (The sauce should thicken considerably.)
- While sauce is simmering, cook the vermicelli pasta according to package directions, drain, and set aside.
- When sauce is done simmering, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grate the mozzarella. (Note: really good mozzarella is difficult to grate but that’s fine. It doesn’t have to be pretty!)
- Layer half the vermicelli in a buttered 9×13 pan. Drop half the Ricotta cheese over the noodles in dollops and carefully spread into noodles. Add half the grated mozzarella and half the meat sauce, spreading the sauce out evenly. Repeat with remaining noodles, ricotta, mozzarella, and meat sauce and top with parmesan cheese.
- Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes. Cool for fifteen minutes before slicing – it will thicken as it sits!