This easy cheesy pasta bake itself sounds so amusing that it is bound to bring a smile on your face as soon as you hear about it! Now take a look at it and see how your smile expands!
It has been a while that I made a baked pasta recipe. I love any kind of cheesy baked pasta but am forced to avoid it as much as I could because of the overload of cheese! Can you believe it? I mean I agree the cheesy baked pasta is not a diet-friendly dish but one can indulge once in a while right?
So when I made up mind to make this, I was determined to make this happen whatever may come my way! Sometimes we have to fight for our rights, don’t we? LOL!
This is a fairly simple recipe but it has lot of potential to be customized in various ways. I made it all veggies and used only broccoli because I wanted to have the earthy flavor of broccoli come through the cheesy soft goodness.
You can add any veggies of your choice – add some thinly sliced mushrooms after sautéing them in olive oil until golden brown, or add some sautéed assorted bell peppers to give a colorful kick. This would be an ideal recipe for adding lots of veggies into your diet in case you are not much of a veggie lover!
You can make a non-vegetarian version of this one too! Here are few options – poach some chicken breast in salted boiling water for about 20 minutes or until tender, drain and shred them with 2 forks, sauté them lightly in olive oil and add to the pasta.
A quicker way would be to use pre-cooked sausages. Just cut the sausages into 1 inch rounds and fry very lightly. Then mix with pasta and proceed similarly to bake as given in the recipe instructions below. I am telling you this is a phenomenal recipe in itself, the stretch of possibilities of creating endless varieties are only restricted by your imagination!
My version of this cheesy broccoli pasta bake only includes sharp cheddar, our favorite cheese. If that’s your favorite too then you can use the same. Other melting cheeses like fresh Monterey Jack or Gruyere will also be good; or if you are not quite confident about the natural cheeses, use a good quality process cheese which should also work well. Just make sure to bring the cheese to room temperature before you add it to the sauce and start baking. This will ensure that the cheese melts well. And remove the baking dish from the oven immediately when the top starts to get a golden brown color; even a short delay can ruin the whole dish!
Hope this helps and you can make a delicious easy cheesy broccoli pasta bake putting in your own innovation which you family will love! After all food is meant to make people happy, right?
- Dry whole-wheat pasta (rigatoni, penne, or other short pasta with ridges) – 500 gms
- Broccoli florets – 2 cups, cut into ½-inch to 1-inch pieces
- Olive oil – 2 tbsp
- Garlic – 6 to 8 cloves, minced
- All-purpose flour – 1 tbsp
- Milk – 2 cups
- Dijon mustard – 1 tbsp
- Paprika – ½ tsp
- Italian seasoning – 1 tsp
- Dried parsley – 1 tsp
- Cheddar cheese – 200 gms, grated
- Freshly-ground black pepper – ½ tsp
- Salt to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook the pasta al dente according to the package directions. Add the broccoli florets to the boiling water for the last two minutes of cooking the pasta. Drain the pasta and broccoli and set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the garlic and cook for a minute or two until it begins to brown. Add the flour, and whisk until a smooth roux forms. Add the milk, mustard and the spices and continue whisking until the mixture thickens, about 1-2 minutes. When the sauce begins to bubble, add the cheddar cheese and stir until melted.
- Add the pasta and broccoli to the sauce and stir until combined. Pour the pasta mixture into an oven-safe casserole dish and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Bake until the pasta is warmed through and the top is golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Serve warm.