Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Design your own casserole

Last week I picked up the special issue of food network magazine. this issue called  Italian Issue, which is full of Italian recipes. I loved it, I just sit and go over and over the magazine. it is full of recipes and nice pictures and also my favorite Italian chef Mario, I don't know if you had watched his shows or not ( particularly when he is on Iron chef), but I really enjoy watching his work, he has such a unique and special point of view in cooking and those orange clogs he wears, so cute.

It has a nice section called "Mix &Match; Match Baked Pasta" where they explained the basics of casserole but you get to design and make your own because you have endless options here. So  after reading and looking at the pictures ( they look sooo delicious and they turned out to be tasty too ) last week I decided to make a casserole from this magazine. I will post the way I made my own but you could add or modify based on your taste and basically design your own casserole, so let's get down to cooking, shall we!
Step 1:
Pasta 400-500 g
Step 2: Sauce
Garlic: 4 cloves
Olive oil : 2 tablespoon (for cooking garlic)
Plum Tomato can : around 800 ml (you could use fresh plum tomato or if not available any other tomato sauce you have)
Water : 1 cup
Fresh basil springs: 3-4 ( or 1 teaspoon of dry basil leaves)
Salt, red pepper for sauce seasoning
Step3: Mix-ins
Ground beef cooked  200 g ( you could use Italian sausage,meatballs or chopped pepperoni, shredded chicken or no meat at all, your choice)
Zucchini, sliced and saute: 1 cup
Mushrooms, sliced and saute: 1 cup
you could add any kind of vegetables or mix-ins like :  hard-boiled eggs, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, eggplants, fennel, spinach, escarole, black or green olives ;of course everything chopped ( for me those were the ones that I had at that time)
Step4: Flavor the sauce
For herb sauce: chopped basil and parsley: 1 cup
For creamy sauce: fresh ricotta : 1 cup
For meat sauce: Pancetta ,diced and chopped 1/2 cup
Step5: Cheese
In the recipe it said 3 cups of melting cheese and 1 cup of granting cheese. I think it is a little bit too much cheese so I reduced the cheese amount.
Mozzarella ; melting cheese: 1 cup ( if you have fresh ones , that would be even better)
Parmesan; granting cheese: 2 tablespoon

First step is to pick your pasta, preheat the oven to 400 Fand bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook your choice of pasta, 2-3 minutes less than the usual well cooked time because it will cook with the sauce and rest of ingredients too ( you could use the proposed timing on the package for complete cook)
Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat and add sliced garlic and pinch of red pepper; cook until the garlic is golden ( be careful it take few seconds). Add the crushed tomato can to the skillet and add about 1 cup of water to the skillet. Add the basil leaves and cook ( uncovered) until the sauce is thickened ( about 10-15 minutes). If you used fresh basil leaves take them out of the sauce and add a pinch of salt.   
While the sauce is thickening, you could prepare your mix-ins ( all together around 3 cups). I cooked the beef for a few minutes on a pan and set aside; added the mushrooms and zucchini to it and tossed for a few seconds  do not overcook the vegetables).
stir one of the flavoring ingredients to the sauce.and then add the materials from step 3 to the sauce. 

Toss the cooked pasta with the sauce and half of the cheese. Spread in an oiled baking pan. And sprinkle the remaining cheese over the pasta to cover the surface. Bake uncovered, until cheese melted and goldened (about 10-15 minutes). When it is ready take it out from the oven and let it cool down for sufficient amount of time. 

Hope you enjoy! till next time.


  1. wwwwwwwwwwwwwwoooooooooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwww Thanks my lovely dear , I must find this amazing magazine.

  2. Merci azizam , age ke gir nayovordi ye khabar bede man barat send konam , kheili majaleye khoshgel va jalebie :)