Italian Mac and Cheese Casserole

January 15, 2010

After making  Ham and Potatoes Au Gratin recently, I got to thinking about variations for macaroni and cheese.  What if I layered the cheese in instead melting the cheese into the white sauce?  What else could I add to jazz it up?  This is what I came up.  Olives might make a good addition but I can’t stand them so I left them out.  It’d be easy enough to leave out the sausage for a meat-free version.  Use this is inspiration to create your own combination!

  • Pasta, 1 pound of your choice.  I used rotini but elbows or shells would work well too.
  • Mozzarella, 4 to 5 cups, grated
  • Parmesan
  • Sundried Tomatoes
  • Fresh Spinach
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Fresh Basil Leaves
  • Italian Sausage, 1 to 1  1/2 pounds
  • Butter, 1/2 cup
  • Flour, 1/2 cup
  • Milk, 4 1/2 cups
  • Garlic, 6 or 7 cloves, minced
  • Salt
  • Crushed Red Pepper

Put a pot on for the pasta.  Remove the sausage from the casing and start it browning, just like browning ground beef.

Melt the butter over medium heat in a heavy saucepan, just until it starts to bubble.  Stir in the garlic, crushed red pepper and a dash of salt.  Cook and stir for a few minutes, until the garlic softens.Stir in the flour and cook for another couple of minutes.   Add the milk and cook, stirring nearly continously, until the sauce thickens.  Remove from the heat and set it aside.While you’re waiting on the pasta to get to a barely al dente stage and the sausage to finish browning, chop the red pepper. Drain the pasta when it’s done and drain any excess fat from the sausage.

Spread a little sauce in the bottom of a baking dish  and add a layer of pasta.Sprinkle with a generous layer of mozzarella and Parmesan.Add spinach, a handful of sundried tomatoes, a handful of red peppers and tear a little basil over the top.Drizzle with more sauce.Add the sausage.  I almost forgot it and I’d started with the next pasta layer before I remembered it.Repeat another layer – pasta, cheese, spinach, sundried tomato, red peppers, basil and sauce.I topped it off with a bit more cheese, some sundried tomatoes for color, basil and the last of the sauce.  Bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes.  Cover it if the cheese is getting too brown.Let it sit for just a few minutes before serving.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Amy from She Wears Many Hats January 15, 2010 at 12:42 pm

Can I move in with you? I can do dishes and fold clothes.

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2 Karen Bove January 15, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Sure! I’ll take anyone who’ll fold clothes! Laundry Mountain is threatening to consume my living room :)

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3 Scorpio Woman January 15, 2010 at 1:30 pm

oh wow it’s always fun to see all the photos

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4 Scorpio Woman January 15, 2010 at 9:59 pm
5 Las vegas cook! January 28, 2010 at 4:16 pm

Your pictures are amazing! LOVE the action shots. Keep up the excellent pics, can’t wait for your new recipes!!!

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6 Meg December 17, 2010 at 8:24 pm

I love your blog! I’m a brand new cook (and wife) so finding recipes with pictures included is a lifesaver. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been cooking a new recipe and wondering if it supposed to be turning a certain color, texture or spawning in a sentient being. It’s pretty exciting that I don’t have to question it with your blog. Thank you!!!

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