Thursday, January 14, 2010

Baked Pasta

I don’t know what to call this dish so I'll just call it Baked Pasta, OK? Right, so now that that is clear let me tell you that I absolutely LOVE pasta (Why is it that everything fattening in the world is my best friend?). Anyways, I am a big fan of pasta and unfortunately Latif is not. So, I never make it at home coz I cannot go through all the effort for one person. But last night I was not in the mood to cook any roti or rice so thought of making pasta. This is one of my favorite versions wherein I mix vegetables, some chicken and the pasta with a nice white sauce, top it with some cheese and bake it. Usually I just eyeball the sauce ingredient quantities and make up something but this time I thought of following a recipe. I found this post on Annies Eats where Annie had done a comparison of five different types of Mac and Cheese (phew!!). The Pioneer Woman’s recipe was the winner and after making this sauce I know why. I used the quantities mentioned in the recipe and also added the egg and some mustard. Next time I will use more mustard as the flavor was not very strong this time. But I didn’t add any cheese to it coz I didn’t have any cheddar on hand. It was very yummy, creamy and I loved it. The cheese to be used with this is basically cheddar but I used mozzarella. Whatever cheese you use it is going to taste great!! (its cheese after all right?)

P.S - this picture does not have the bread crumb topping as it is the second batch. I was very hungry to wait and take pics of the first one :)

Recipe Source - Adapted from Annies Eats and The Pioneer Woman


4 Cups Uncooked Pasta (any cut pasta, I used Penne)
4 Tbsp Butter
1/4 Cup All-purpose Flour
2 1/2 Cups Milk
1 Egg
1 Tbsp Mustard or 1/2 Tsp Dry Mustard
Seasonings: (Use all or what you prefer)
Cayenne Pepper, Paprika, Thyme
Hot Sauce
Mozzarella Cheese/ Cheddar Cheese
1/2 Cup Bread Crumbs
2 Tbsp Butter
Mix Ins:
Mixed Vegetables*

Preheat the oven to 165 degrees C. Cook the pasta according to package directions until slightly firm. Drain and set aside (we want the pasta to be a little undercooked as we are going to bake it).
In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the flour and cook the mixture for five minutes, whisking constantly. Pour in the milk and the mustard and whisk until smooth. Cook the mixture for five minutes until very thick keeping the heat low at all times.
Beat the egg in a small bowl. Take 1/4 cup of the warm sauce and slowly pour it into the beaten egg, whisking constantly to avoid scrambling the egg. Whisk until smooth. Pour the tempered egg mixture back into the sauce, whisking constantly. Stir until smooth. Add in salt and other seasonings. Taste and adjust seasonings according to personal preference.
Add the drained cooked pasta to the pot and mix well. Then add whatever mix ins you like with the pasta (I used shredded chicken and mixed vegetables that I had cooked sometime back and was in my freezer).
Take a baking dish (big enough for all the pasta) and butter it lightly. Put the pasta in this dish and top with the cheese. In the same pot in which the sauce was cooked (empty by now) melt the butter for the topping and add the bread crumbs. Mix it well and spread this on top of the cheese.
Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for additional 5 minutes or till the top is golden brown.
I like to eat the pasta with a dollop of mayonnaise and ketchup mixed together. Yum!! How do you eat yours?

* - I used mixed frozen vegetables. Boiled, drained and tossed with salt and pepper.
** - Take two medium chicken breasts (boneless and skinless), apply ginger garlic paste, salt and pepper and keep for an hour. Cut into 1 inch pieces. Chop one onion and sauté in a pan with a little oil. Add the chicken and cook till done.
When cooled, mix the vegetables to the chicken and run once in a choppper to get smaller pieces.

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Hi there! If you have any thoughts, queries or suggestions please do let me know. I would love to hear from you!