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Old 06-09-2003, 02:07 AM   #1
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Should pasta ever be baked?

one of oldcoot's comments about cooking things twice got me thinking: I've tried many recipes which call for cooking the pasta, cooking a sauce for it, then combining both, placing in a baking dish, then baking for several minutes. I've made a lot of these dishes, especially on my quest to find the 'perfect' macaroni & cheese (a humble goal, I know, but sadly I still don't have a great recipe) but I've never made one of these dishes that i would ever make again. They've all been very dry and less flavorful than when they were done cooking the first time. Has anyone ever made a good baked pasta dish, and if so, would you care to share the recipe?

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Old 06-09-2003, 07:06 AM   #2
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Baked Pasta

Well, if you're talking about Lasagna, then you don't have to boil the pasta before baking, just layer it dry. Most brands allow you to do this, you just have to read the label on the box.

To make a really good Mac 'n Cheese, I like to use Penne or Ziti pasta. They're thicken than macaroni, and they hold up to baking a lot better. Just make sure you cook the pasta to pre-al dente. Usually Penne takes about 8 minutes for al dente so cook it for about 6 minutes instead. In my opinion, the best Mac 'n cheese uses a bechamel mixed with cheese. You'd want to use a decent to good brand of cheese like a Tilamook Orange or White Cheddar, and you can even use something like a Gorgonzola or Marscapone cheese for a different kind of flavor. At this Italian restaurant I used to work at, we had a dish called Risotto alla Quaggi Formaggi (Four Cheese Risotto). The cheeses were Parmesan, Marscapone, Gorgonzola, and Bochetto al Tartufo (a Truffled Sheep's Milk Cheese). I've never tried that combo to make a baked pasta dish, but I'll bet it would be really good.

I tend to stay away from baked pastas, only because they're somewhat limited because they murder fresh ingredients like arugula, rocket, broccoli di rape, etc. However, if you're really interested in baked pasta, then my favorite to use is Gnocchi. Baked Gnocchi in a Bolognese Ragu and Browned Parmesan Cheese on top is unbelievable.
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Old 06-09-2003, 12:11 PM   #3
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BW makes a mac & cheese that I love (and I'm not a pasta fan!). She uses three cheeses and does NOT bake it! It is smooth and creamy, the mac al dente, and just plain delicious.

Is mac & cheese really MAC & cheese when made with penne? :)
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Old 06-10-2003, 08:28 PM   #4
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I just made a really nummy dish tonight called "Chicken Lasagna Style" where you boil the noodles, cool them, mix with a chicken mixture and then bake for 45 minutes and it is so GOOD!

2 cups cooked and diced chicken
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cans cream of chicken soup (I use the 98-percent fat free and still good!)
1 cup sour cream ( I use light and its great)
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
2 cups grated Mozzarella cheese
3 cups egg noodles, boiled and cooled slightly

Cook and drain the noodles according to package directions. Remove and cool while preparing chicken mixture. Combine all remaining ingredients except cheese. (I usually saute the green onions and pepper to crisp-tender first). Add noodles to chicken mixture; pour into 13x-9-inch baking or pan or lasagna pan. Sprinkle cheese on top. Cover and bake at 350-degrees for 45 minutes.

You can also make this more like a lasagna by using one package of lasagna, same directions, the layer by alternating chicken mixture, noodles, then cheese.
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Old 06-10-2003, 08:51 PM   #5
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starrleicht, that sounds very good--i'm going to give it a try.

oldcoot--anytime you want to give me your BW's recipe for mac & cheese, i won't complain!
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Old 06-13-2003, 11:11 PM   #6
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I have to say that the only pasta dishes I bake are macaroni and cheese and lasagna. Ironchef, I agree, some of the ingredients called for in baked pasta dishes are too good to be tossed in the oven!!!!
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Old 06-14-2003, 02:35 PM   #7
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starrleicht I'm having the chicken lasagna tonight with chicken but I'm still curious if you have tried tuna in it yet?
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Old 06-15-2003, 11:11 AM   #8
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It was good but now that I have tasted it I doubt tuna would be good in this unless you made some changes to the spices. Fast, easy, and tasty almost a night off. :P
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Old 06-15-2003, 11:53 PM   #9
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starrleicht, your chicken lasagna recipe looks really good :) ! I'm going to make it for a party whose honoree has requested lasagna. Bet she'll be surprised to see two varieties :). Thanks :!: :D :D

Well, rats! Where is that licking-the-chops emoticon??
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Old 06-22-2003, 03:06 AM   #10
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Only when it is in the casserole dish.
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