Quick and Simple Pastas


When I left home to go to nursing school, I knew how to make 2  things: Chef Boyardee Pizza, and real macaroni and cheese.  I used to grate all the cheese for the mac and cheese, stand over the stove and stir together a white sauce (or bechamel), ever fearful that the milk would scorch. Up until this year that has been how I’ve always made it, that is until I found a recipe in an old cookbook called What Can I Bring?  It looked far to simple to work, but to my great delight it did and even my pickiest eater happily chows down on this super easy dish. I use preshredded cheese, and quick cooking rotini pasta (3 minutes to al dente!) to speed up the process. It is best hot out of the oven, and does not hold well for transport (to a potluck for example).

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

2 C quick cooking macaroni

2 C of milk

1/4 C of flour

1 t onion salt

3 C shredded cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 350* and grease a 9 by 13 dish. Cook the macaroni.

2. While the water is coming to a boil for the macaroni mix together the milk, flour and onion salt (I use a measuring cup), and let stand while the pasta is cooking.

3. Return the drained pasta to the saucepan and add the milk mix and 2 C of the shredded cheese. Mix well and turn into the baking dish. Top with remaining cheese.

4. Bake for 45 minutes, turn on the broiler to brown up the cheese a bit.

The second recipe is also very simple and quick to put together. The original recipe is called Penne with Pancetta, but since I can only find real pancetta (an special Italian bacon type meat) it has been rechristened Penne with Tomato and Bacon Sauce. The sauce freezes very well.

6 slices of bacon, finely chopped

1 medium onion, finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

24 oz crushed tomatoes

salt and pepper to taste

12 oz cooked penne pasta

1. Cook the bacon in a large Dutch oven in a little bit of olive oil to keep it from sticking, until crisp then remove with a slotted spoon, reserving the drippings.

2. Cook the onion and garlic in the drippings until soft, 7-8 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, and simmer for 15-20 minutes. If you have fresh basil or oregano add this as well.

3. Mix the pasta with the sauce (I do this in the pasta pot,  ladling in sauce just until it is evenly coated, saving any extra for another time). Stir bacon and parmesan and serve immediately.


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