A tomato and mascarpone pasta bake that you put together within 15 minutes, full of delicious vegetables, ground beef, and a creamy mascarpone tomato sauce. An easy recipe for busy days.
Can you ever have enough recipes with macaroni pasta? Meh, probably not. Because macaroni has it all: simple, fast, the delicious flavors of Italian cuisine and it is real comfort food. You can already find a delicious recipe for super fast macaroni and a Mac and cheese casserole (with three delicious cheeses).
In my family, Italian cuisine ranks high, very high on the "we like very much" ranking. And this tomato and mascarpone pasta bake with ground beef and cheese, is deliciously filled and has such a delicious creamy taste, was very popular.
And I loved it for another reason: because this is the IDEAL recipe for those busy weekdays, when it seems like everyone has to go to school, to sports or other clubs. And, oh yeah, mom what are we eating today?
This casserole dish is ready in just fifteen minutes and then only has to bake in the oven, it is super easy. And if it is really not possible to all sit at the table, I make different oven dishes and everyone can eat at their own time.
This recipe is adapted from the Dutch blog Kookidee.
A tomato and pasta bake is delicious comfort food and easy to prepare. A great casserole recipe for busy days!
History of macaroni
Where and when Macaroni originated is not certain, but around the year 1000, the first recipe was written down in an Italian cookbook. So it definitely is around for quite some time.
Macaroni is made from durum wheat and water. And although there are special attachments for the pasta machine, it is usually bought ready-made. The round shape of the macaroni (also called elbow macaroni) is made by forming the dough over a ring.
In the Netherlands when we're talking about macaroni, we actually mean elbows, but macaroni can certainly also be quite different. In Belgium for instance, it's a hollow pasta that is shaped, yet slightly thicker than spaghetti.
The differences arose because macaroni is actually a collective name for dry pasta without eggs, which is hollow. As a result, if you order Macaroni in Italy you can also get a plate with Penne which also meets that criteria.
- Macaroni - Thin macaroni is best for this casserole, otherwise, it will turn into bites of dough.
- Ground beef - Ground beef has a lot of flavor and fits well in this oven dish.
- Mascarpone - A thick cream cheese that, when combined with the sieved tomatoes, gives a smooth creamy sauce.
- Grated cheese - Use a cheese, like Gouda for a lot of flavor.
- Sun-dried tomatoes - For a delicious bite in this oven dish. Even better than sun-dried tomatoes are semi-sun-dried tomatoes (I can eat a bowl of that).
- Sugar - The sugar brings out the sweetness in the tomato. You don't need much of it, but it does make it tastier.
Step 1 - Preparations
- Wash the zucchini and cut into small cubes of about ½ x ½ inch (1 x 1 cm). You can leave the skin on, it gives flavor and beautiful color.
- Scrape the carrots and cut them into small cubes. About ¼ x ¼ inch (½ x ½ cm) (carrots take a little longer to cook).
- Grease an oven dish (which is a good thing when you've got to the point that you wash the dishes later).
- Cook the macaroni according to the package (al dente). Drain and rinse under cold water. That way the cooking process stops.
Step 2 - Bake the ground beef
- Saute the onion over medium heat for three minutes until translucent. Add the minced beef to the skillet and brown it.
- Then add the tomato paste. Bake that for two minutes. The tomato paste will become sweeter as it bakes.
Step 3 - Prepare the filling and tomato mascarpone sauce
- Add the leek, courgette, and carrot cubes, and strips of sun-dried tomatoes to the pan and fry for 5 minutes, stirring continuously.
- Pour in the passata (sieved tomatoes) and stir the mascarpone cheese and sugar into the sauce. Mix everything.
- Shake half of the grated cheese into the skillet and stir into the sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the Italian herbs.
- Turn off the heat and add the macaroni to the sauce and mix well.
Step 4 - Tomato and mascarpone pasta bake
- Spoon the contents of the skillet into the baking dish and smooth out.
- Sprinkle the rest of the grated cheese over the oven dish. Place the dish in a preheated oven (350 °F/180 °C) for 15 minutes, so that you get a nice au gratin. Serve the tomato and mascarpone pasta bake and minced meat with a delicious green salad!
This recipe for a tomato and mascarpone pasta bake is really great, but if you want to adjust the recipe to your taste or replace an ingredient with something from your pantry, I have a few nice suggestions here.
- Vegetarian: if you like to eat a vegetarian casserole, you can easily replace the minced beef with ½ pound (300 grams) of vegetarian minced meat. You can also choose to replace the minced meat with ½ pound (300 grams) of lentils and a clove of garlic.
- Gluten-Free: Make this recipe gluten-free by replacing the macaroni with gluten-free macaroni.
- Skinny: Replace the mascarpone with an equal amount of cream. You can also replace the ground beef with ground chicken. And double the amount of zucchini cubes and carrots and reduce the amount of macaroni to 2 cups (uncooked) (300 grams).
- Replace the sun-dried tomatoes with semi-sun-dried tomatoes. These have much more flavor.
- You can also replace the mascarpone with sour cream or, with a slimmer version, an equal amount of whipped cream.
- Also consider other vegetables such as eggplant, fresh tomatoes, and broccoli (cook the latter 6 minutes before you use them in your casserole).
- As your choice of pasta you can of course opt for the whole grain variant, for more fiber. And if you don't have macaroni, you can also substitute it with penne or fusilli. Due to their shape, the sauce also sticks well to this pasta.
- This skillet is ideal for browning the meat and frying the vegetables. It is sufficiently large (10.5 inches (26 cm) in diameter), has a good coating to prevent sticking (which in turn saves washing up) and you can use it on all heat sources. And you can clean it in the dishwasher.
- With this chef's knife, you can quickly finely chop all vegetables and herbs. The knife is sharp and stays sharp and lies comfortably in the hand. If you have to pick one knife for your kitchen, this is the one I recommend!
- This baking dish is sufficiently large and deep to make the tomato and mascarpone pasta bake. It is made of aluminum and that ensures that the heat is evenly distributed in the oven (so that your dish is equally warm and cooked throughout). It has a non-stick coating and is therefore easy to clean.
This recipe can be made in advanced quite well and therefor you need only a few steps to prepare on the day of serving. And you can freeze this casserole quite well.
- Preparation in advance and storage: make the oven dish up to 2 days in advance up to and including step 13 (put everything into the oven dish). Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and keep it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking and allow it to come to room temperature slightly (otherwise, the baking dish may burst). Just before baking, sprinkle with grated cheese and put the dish in the oven for 25 minutes (you will increase the cooking time by 10 minutes).
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator: Let the leftovers cool down to room temperature. You can store leftovers airtight in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
- Freeze leftovers: You can also pack leftovers airtight and store them in the freezer. That way it can be stored for up to 2 months. Allow the pasta bake to thaw in the refrigerator one day before serving. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking and place in the baking dish. This allows it to reach room temperature. Cover in the oven for 25 minutes (250 °F / 180 °C) to warm.
- Boil the macaroni in salted water and stir regularly. Italians always cook their pasta, to get the best taste, in salted water. And by stirring the pasta won't stick together.
- Bake the tomato paste before adding the vegetables. By baking the flavor changes from sour to sweet. Not only can you taste the difference, but you can also smell it.
- Check the casserole every 5 minutes while baking in the oven if it's not browning too hard. Otherwise, cover it with aluminum foil.
When preparing macaroni you use ¾ cups (100 grams) of uncooked macaroni per person. For children, you will use ⅔ cups (80 grams).
First calculate how much macaroni you're going to cook. Then put for every ¾ cup (100 grams) 4 cups (1 liter) of water in a pan. So for this recipe you use 16 cups (4 liter) of water. Also add 2 teaspoons of salt.
Then cook the water until it boils. Add the macaroni to the water and bring it back to the boil. While stirring now and then cook the macaroni for 7 minutes for al dente pasta and up to 2 minutes longer for a softer macaroni.
After cooking drain the macaroni, a sieve comes in very handy, and put everything back in the pan. Mix the pasta with 1 tablespoon of olive oil to prevent sticking.
With this mascarpone and tomato pasta bake you can serve some delicious side dishes, like:
- Focaccia with basil and Parmesan cheese
- Vegetarian arugula salad with pistachios
- Tomato salad with pesto and pine nuts
Other Delicious Recipes
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Watch How to Make It
Tomato and Mascarpone Pasta Bake
Use the buttons to adjust the number of people.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion chopped
- ½ pound ground beef
- 1 oz. tomato paste
- 10 carrots cleaned and diced
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 oz. mascarpone
- 1 teaspoon Italian herbs
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ oz fresh basil cut in strips
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F (180 °C)
- Grease an oven dish with oil1 tablespoon olive oil
- Bring a pan of water to the boil and shake the macaroni in it. Cook it according to the instructions on the package until it is al dente.3 cups macaroni
- Drain in a colander.
- Pour some oil into the skillet and fry the onion until they're glassy.1 onion
- Add the ground beef and brown it.½ pound ground beef
- Add the tomato puree and fry for 2 minutes until it no longer smells sour.1 oz. tomato paste
- Now put the vegetables in the pan and bake everything while you keep stirring, about 5 minutes.1 leek, 1 zucchini, 10 carrots, 4 oz, sun-dried tomatoes
- Pour the passata, the mascarpone, and the sugar into the pan and stir well.1¾ cups passata, 3 oz. mascarpone, 1 teaspoon sugar
- Also, add half of the grated cheese, mix everything well and let it simmer for 5 minutes.8 oz. cheese
- Taste and season with salt, pepper, and Italian herbs.1 teaspoon Italian herbs, ¼ teaspoon salt, ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Turn off the heat and mix the macaroni with the vegetable beef sauce.
- Put everything in the baking dish.
- Sprinkle the rest of the grated cheese over the oven dish.8 oz. cheese
- Place the casserole in the oven for 15 minutes so that the cheese melts. Optional: Garnish with fresh basil½ oz fresh basil
- Prepare in advance: make the casserole up to 2 days in advance up to and including step 13 (scoop everything into the baking dish). Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before cooking and let it come to room temperature slightly (otherwise the baking dish may crack). Just before baking, sprinkle with grated cheese and put the dish in the oven for 25 minutes (you will increase the cooking time by 10 minutes).
- Keep leftovers in the fridge: Let the leftovers cool down to room temperature first. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
- Storing leftovers in the freezer: You can also pack leftovers airtight and store them in the freezer. This can take up to 2 months. Let the macaroni thaw covered in the refrigerator a day before cooking. Take it out of the fridge 30 minutes before cooking and put it in the baking dish. This way it can come to room temperature. Heat covered in the oven (350 °F/180°C) for 25 minutes.