Should pasta ever be baked?

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carnivore

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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?
 

ironchef

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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.
 

oldcoot

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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? :)
 
Joined
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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.
 

carnivore

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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!
 

Coco

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Mar 20, 2003
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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!!!!
 

Michelledawn

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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?
 

Michelledawn

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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
 

leigh

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Jun 16, 2002
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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??
 
Joined
Jun 30, 2002
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USA
thanks!

Thanks all - I'm so glad you liked the recipe - I put it in my favorites, too! :D

starrleicht I'm having the chicken lasagna tonight with chicken but I'm still curious if you have tried tuna in it yet?

No - never tried tuna as I'm not a tuna-eater, but somehow I didn't think it would taste too good, but now you know so everyone else, take note! But heck, it never hurts to try. I do all kinds of odd ball things and sometimes come up with something REALLY good (and sometimes something that has to promptly go into the bit "T" file, which I hate 'cos it's such a waste!).
 

Dianne

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Oct 2, 2002
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Northern Italy
I don't know whether any of you remember me, I am english and I have moved to Italy - been living here for the past six months. Italians are red hot news on fresh ingredients, and by fresh, I mean straight from the kitchen garden. There is nothing like fresh tomato sauce, made from tomatoes, herbs, garlic and onions straight from the soil and carried maybe fifty yards into the kitchen. We are currently enjoying figs straight from the tree outside - heaven!!! :D :D . As for pasta al forno, as it's called here, there are many varieties, from the classic lasagne and cannelloni, maccheroni alla siciliana, and many other pasta dishes that are cooked in the oven - 'forno' means 'oven'. As long as you make the dish in one go and don't use left-overs (heaven forbid) then there is no risk in cooking sauces and pasta, combining them, and then finishing them off in the oven. That is what, traditionally, has been going on in Italy for many centuries, and no deaths have yet been recorded - and it was the Romans who first introduced ovens to their colonialised countries.

I have found, since being here, that people take much more time over cooking than we do. I now cook on a wood burning stove - I use olive wood - and it is a dream, but certainly not instant. What I have learned is that to cook fast is to overcook and destroy flavours, but to take time and cook slow produces good results every time. I have learned to ADORE the cookery of the Italian Riviera - very simple but sophisticated use of ingredients, to produce delicious results. Italian cookery is definitely very different in technique from the world of instant food results that I come from - but I always knew that, as I have always had close links with Italy
and using these different cooking techniques is a pleasure for me.

If you want any recipes for 'pasta al forno' and cooking techniques, please post back

ciao

dianne
 
Joined
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Sounds heavenly, Diane!! I love Italian cooking, but I bet yours beats any I've ever eaten! Will have to read more about cooking like that, it sounds delicious. Thanks for the information, that was very interesting!
 

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