Friday, January 7, 2011

Giada's Spicy Baked Macaroni

This week at I Heart Cooking Clubs the theme is resolutions. One of mine was to make an effort to plan more meals with stuff we have on hand for those busy weeknight dinners. I love finding recipes for lingering pantry/fridge/freezer items, and basing a complete meal on them. The more ingredients I have on hand the better, it's always fun reading through a recipe and doing that mental check-list of what you have, it's like a little score card, and it's a nice little win when you already have every ingredient you need.

Another resolution I have is to blog more and not miss participating with my favorite cook and bake along blogging groups :)

I've never been good at "sticking to the list" when grocery shopping and always end up with a ton of mismatched ingredients that sound interesting, but I don't have a specific recipe planned to use them so they sit in the pantry or fridge or freezer. For this recipe, everything I needed was available in my home and it always feels good to make something with stuff you don't need to run to the store for, right? So, if you'd like to make a tasty dish for dinner and don't want to go out, I bet you have most of this stuff in your pantry/fridge/freezer as well...

Spicy Baked Macaroni
Giada De Laurentiis

1 pound elbow macaroni pasta -- used barilla, love their ridged macaroni
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound assorted mushrooms, quartered -- used white button mushrooms
1 onion, chopped -- skipped this, not an onion fan
2 cloves garlic, chopped -- used roasted garlic, like 5 cloves
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes -- used Muir Glen Fire Roasted
1 (10-ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed and drained of excess liquid
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes -- used Paul Prudhomme's Pizza Pasta Magic - Hot & Sweet Seasoning

1/2 cups bread crumbs -- used half panko and half three cheese bread Crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus 1/3 cup
1/4 cup Romano, plus 1/3 cup
2 tablespoons butter, softened, plus 2 tablespoons
12 ounces mozzarella cubed (about 2 cups) -- upped this to 20 ounces, extra cheesy :)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, onion, and garlic. Cook until the mushrooms are tender and the onion is golden, about 7 minutes. Add the tomatoes, spinach, and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and 1/4 cup Romano. Spread the softened butter in a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish and sprinkle half of the bread crumb mixture inside the dish to coat.

In a large bowl combine the vegetable mixture with the cooked macaroni, cubed mozzarella, the remaining Parmesan and Romano cheeses, and the nutmeg. Spoon into the prepared baking dish...

top with the remaining bread crumb mixture, and dot the top with the remaining butter.

Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 to 40 minutes.


Yum! This was a great dish that was easy to prepare, and everyone who tried it liked it. I noted on the foodnetwork reviews that a couple of people thought this was dry, so I added some extra cheese. Honestly it did *look* a little dry but did not taste dry at all. It was very flavorful and full of texture and taste. I loved the crumb bottom and topping. It was also not very spicy so don't worry if spicy isn't your thing.

I made it one night for dinner while picky husband was working late since he would not like something like this, he does not eat spinach, mushrooms, or tomatoes. I have to admit to a little "sneaky cheff-ing" by not telling my kids what veggies were in this. The kids are fine with mushrooms, and the boys both like tomatoes, but they all claim to not like spinach and my daughter claims to not like tomatoes. I told them that there were surprise veggies in here and they had to guess what they were...after a few cautionary bites they were happily cleaning their plates and having fun guessing what was in here. My daughter who is five thought that the tomatoes were red peppers, and couldn't quite put her finger on the green stuff, but thought it was good. My three year old son kept saying the green was spinach, which made my daughter exclaim, "no way, this is not spinach, I hate spinach, it's disgusting, and this tastes good!" -- too funny! When I revealed the secret veggies my daughter was the most suprised and now has a new appreciation for spinach :)

I'm sending this dish over to Presto Pasta Nights, thank you to Claire at Chez Cayenne for hosting PPN #196 this week!


Claire said...

You had me at "spicy." This looks great. Thanks for sending it in to Presto Pasta Nights!

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

Mmm, I love all the stuff in there!
Seems we all have a pantry resolution at IHCC - yay!

Ruth Daniels said...

I love all these ingredients. This is NOT just another Mac 'n Cheese... this is Heaven. Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights.

Mary said...

There are some wonderful ingredients in this dish. I love the food and recipes you pick to share with your readers. They keep us all coming back. I hope you have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

Couscous & Consciousness said...

Goodness - this dish looks and sounds great - I especially love all those vegetables in there (and the roasted garlic).

P.S. Do check out my new "Making it with ... Mondays" event - might be just the thing to help you use up some of those random ingredients lurking in the back of the pantry - full details here

Sue :-)

Kim said...

It's always a good feeling when you read through an ingredient list to find that you already have everything on hand. This spicy baked macaroni has caught my eye several times. So glad to know that it is a winner! It looks great.

A Scientist in the Kitchen said...

You got me at "spicy" too :)

Claudia said...

Yep, spicy and those breadcrumbs on top and I wanted some. Sounds great.

Deb in Hawaii said...

This looks like a hearty, flavorful dish and good for using up those pantry items--always a plus. ;-)

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