The Mac Bake

Okay so I’m getting really hard pressed for dishes (and names ) for this 99 Things To Do With Macaroni challenge. Nevertheless I’ve come up with yet another vegetarian meal idea utilizing the holy trinity of cheese, macaroni and panko bread crumbs (can you tell I like them).  I know by now people must be saying “Geez… it all has cheese and panko. It has to taste the same”. Well it doesn’t. Despite having similar ingredients, this is a vastly different tasting dish than the others I’ve presented. Give it a try and see for yourself. While I would love to sit and make my own pasta sauce from scratch, sometimes a person just does not have the time or patience to do so. I do end up doctoring up some of the pre-made stuff to make it unique though.
9 oz elbow macaroni
1 can (680 ml) Hunts Thick and Rich Four Cheese pasta sauce (or whatever you prefer)
1/2 cup small white onions, sliced (omit and substitute a tablespoon of onion powder if you have finicky onion haters)
1 bell pepper (any color but preferably anything other than green), chopped fine
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded & divided
1/4 cup cooking wine (or white wine)
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp dried oregano

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add a pinch of salt then add the pasta. Cook till al’ dente (or approximately 8 minutes) – You don’t want the pasta too well done because it still has to cook in the oven for a bit near the end. if you overcook it the pasta will be mushy in the end.

3. Drain pasta and set aside. – Do not wash or run water over the pasta. You’ll need the starch left on them to bind everything together.

4. In a small pot on medium heat add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil (or vegetable oil). Add the onions and garlic.  Cook till the garlic is fragrant and the onions are translucent. Add wine and bring to a simmer.

5. Add pasta sauce and bring to a simmer.  Even if you’re not a fan of too much sauce you have to make quite a bit so that the bake doesn’t dry out when cooking in the oven.

6. Add bell peppers and cook, covered, for approximately 5 – 8 minutes.

7. Combine the pasta and sauce in a large pot. Stir until everything is coated. Pour into a glass ungreased casserole dish. Top with mozzarella cheese.

8. In a small dish combine the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, and oregano.  Top the pasta with the mixture.

9. Place in the oven and cook for 12 – 15  minutes or until topping gets golden brown.

Alternate: As always try different cheeses for different results.


7 responses

  1. Amy

    Yummo. I could really go for some of this right now and it’s only 10 am my time!

    March 11, 2011 at 9:52 am

  2. As always…this sounds delicious!

    March 11, 2011 at 4:50 am

  3. This mac bake really sounds simple and looks delicious. Wonderful recipe. I really enjoyed reading this.

    March 10, 2011 at 8:21 pm

  4. I can honestly say I’ve never used wine of any kind in a pasta dish…you’re way too classy for me, Ian! LOL!


    March 10, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    • Haha! Nothing fancy about my cooking. That “wine” is cooking wine purchased at the Superstore. lol

      March 10, 2011 at 11:57 pm

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