A macaroni casserole that you prepare within 15 minutes, full of delicious vegetables and a mascarpone tomato sauce. An easy recipe for busy days.
It is again food blog swap time and this time I was allowed to cook from the blog of Rik, called kookidee. Rik is an internet entrepreneur and a cooking enthusiast. Now both his passions are very obvious at his blogs. I found it quite difficult to choose a delicious recipe from this blog.
I started to think carefully about what food makes everyone in my family really happy. Macaroni is a top choice (aside from fast food of course ;-), I live in a house full of teenagers). And this macaroni casserole seemed very practical to me on the days that the kids do sports in the evenings. You put it together in fifteen minutes and then only have to bake it in the oven for 15 minutes before you can serve it. How easy is that?
With the food blog swap we always give our own twist to the recipes. I decided to adjust the vegetables to everything we like in the tomato sauce and make a delicious mascarpone tomato sauce. Simply because mascarpone tomato sauce is so delicious.
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 shapeof 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 a 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.
? Serving size
When preparing macaroni you use 100 grams uncooked macaroni per person. For children you will use 80 grams.
? How to prepare macaroni
First calculate how much macaroni you're going to cook. Then put for every 100 grams 1 liter (2 pints) of water in a pan. So for this recipe you use 4 liter (8 pints) 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.
📖 Variations and substitutes
This recipe is really delicious, but if you want to adjust the recipe to your taste or replace an ingredient with something from your pantry, then I have some nice suggestions here.
- Vegetarian: if you like to eat vegetarian, you can easily replace the minced beef with 300 grams of vegetarian minced meat. You can also choose to replace the minced meat with 300 grams of lentils.
- Gluten-Free: Make this recipe gluten-free by replacing the macaroni with gluten-free macaroni.
- Skinny: Replace the mascarpone for an equal amount of cream. You can also replace the minced beef with minced chicken. And double the amount of zucchini cubes and carrots and reduce the amount of macaroni to 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 a 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.
💭 Top tips
- 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, you can also smell it.
- Check the casserole every 5 minutes while baking in the oven if it's not browning to hard. Otherwise cover it with aluminium foil.
? Side dishes
With this savory Italian macaroni casserole you can serve some delicious side dishes, like:
- Delicious focaccia with basil and Parmesan cheese
- Vegetarian arugula salad with pistachios
- Tomato salad with pesto and pine nuts
⏲️ What to do with left overs?
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 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 up to 2 months. Allow the macaroni 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 (180 degrees Celsius) to warm.
🥘 Other delicious recipes
If you like this recipe you probably like these to:
? Macaroni casserole with a mascarpone tomato sauce
- 400 grams macaroni
- 300 grams minced beef
- 1 leek cut into thin slices
- 1 zucchini cut into cubes
- 10 carrots cleaned and diced
- 100 grams sun-dried tomatoes cut into strips
- 1 onion chopped
- 400 grams passata
- 30 grams tomato puree
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 75 grams mascarpone
- 200 grams cheese mature grated
- Italian spices
- pepper and salt
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius
- Grease an oven dish with 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.
- Drain in a colander.
- Pour some oil into the frying pan and fry the onion until it is glassy.
- Add the minced meat and fry it loose.
- Add the tomato puree and fry for 2 minutes until it no longer smells sour.
- Now put the vegetables in the pan and fry everything while you keep stirring, about 5 minutes.
- Pour the passata, the mascarpone and the sugar into the pan and stir well.
- Also add half of the grated cheese, mix everything well and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
- Taste and season with salt, pepper and Italian herbs.
- Turn off the heat and mix the macaroni with the vegetable mince sauce.
- Put everything in the baking dish.
- Sprinkle the rest of the grated cheese over the oven dish.
- Place the dish in the oven for 15 minutes so that the cheese melts.