Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Everyday Pasta Casserole

This recipe is all about options, which is why it's so great. You can adapt it based on what you've got on hand and what you want for a particular meal.

A: Pick your pasta. 12-16 oz. of whatever you want: rotini, penne, macaroni, spaghetti, capellini, shells. Whatever you want.

B: Pick your sauce. 12-16 oz. of white sauce, spaghetti sauce (see the white sauce recipe here, or use the spaghetti sauce recipe in my lasagne recipe--the ingredients for it have an asterisk next to them.)

C: Pick a filler. You can do a layer of pre-sliced cheese (easy), or a layer of shredded mozzerella (a little work), or (my favorite) mix 2-3 eggs with 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese (and oregano if desired)

D: Pick your topping. This can be really fattening like a top layer of sliced cheese with butter-saturated crushed Ritz or Saltine crackers, or it can be breadcrumbs, or it can be shredded mozzerella, or it could just be the butter-drenched & crushed saltines/ritz. Your choice.

E: Optional- Pick your veggie. Brocolli, Cauliflower, Tomatoes (allright, that's actually a fruit!);

F: ALSO Optional- Pick your meat. Ground beef, cubed chicken. Whatever you like

Cook your pasta (A). Make your sauce (B), or pull out the can of sauce you're going to use!. If you've chosen a meat (F), cook that as well. Then stir your pasta, sauce, and any meat or veggies (E) you've chosen all together.

Preheat your oven to about 190 Celsius/375 Fahrenheit. Layer half of the pasta mixture (ABEF) in a greased casserole dish. Do a layer of whatever filler you've chosen (C). Spoon in the other half (ABEF) and top with your topping of choice (D). Now cook until heated through. Depending on the thickness of your casserole and size of your dish, it will take approximately 20-35 minutes. ENJOY!

White Sauce

This is a great sauce recipe for pastas, casseroles, to pour over chicken, etc. It's pretty versatile, and you can change it to suit the flavor you desire.

1. Melt 2 TBSP butter/margarine over low heat.
2. Add in one of the following:
  • (this is my favorite) Good Seasons' Garlic & Herb seasoning packet
  • one Hidden Valley Ranch packet
  • condensed soup seasoning packet
  • 2 TBSP flour with at least 1 tsp of desired seasoning (rosemary, garlic, oregano, etc.) + salt & pepper to taste all mixed together
3. Stir together to form smooth paste.
4. Pour in 12-16 oz. (300-500g) milk
5. Add 8 oz. whipping cream (optional)
6. Melt in 2-4 oz. cheese if desired (any flavor- monterey jack, mozzerella, cheddar, hot pepper jack, it's all good!)
7. Bring to low boil. As it boils, it will begin to thicken. After 1-2 minutes of boiling (you should be able to visually see it thickening), remove from heat and set aside.

Now you can pour it over cooked pasta, use it in a casserole, or use as desired.