When the weather starts to get cold, there's nothing quite like a heaping bowl of warm, oven-baked, carbohydrate-loaded pasta. Whether you prefer yours in a rich creamy sauce topped with crispy golden breadcrumbs or full of melty cheeses or both, this comfort food is always rich and satisfying. If you're looking for an easy and delicious way to warm up on a cold night, why not try making baked pasta for dinner?baked pasta, though, is saving any toppings that the recipe calls for until the night you plan to eat the pasta. So, if the pasta calls for a breadcrumb topping, for example, make the topping ahead, but store it in an airtight container in your refrigerator, sprinkling it on the pasta right before baking (or during the final few minutes of baking; the timing depends on your recipe).
Baked pasta is also an easy way to make a complete meal in one dish. If you make a recipe with whole-wheat pasta and load it up with vegetables, you've got a hearty and balanced dinner. Even if your recipe doesn't call for it, you can add beans, tofu, or small pieces of meat to give the dish extra protein. Incorporating a store-bought rotisserie chicken, for example, is one way to quickly enhance a baked pasta dish with virtually no extra work; simply pick the precooked chicken from the bones, shred it into smaller pieces, and stir it into your pasta and sauce. If the pasta seems dry as a result of the extra ingredient, simply add a bit more sauce.
Whether you've got a busy week ahead of you or simply want to satisfy your cold-weather craving for carbohydrates, these easy baked pasta recipes are perfect for any fall night.
Mushroom Soup and Pasta Bake
(Credit: Jamie Oliver Enterprises Limited)
Nostalgia is a big part of comfort food, so Jamie Oliver has taken one of his childhood favorites (cream of mushroom soup) and used it to make a delicious pasta casserole. Click here for the recipe.
Macaroni and Cheese
The nuttiness of aged Gruyère and the tang of sharp Cheddar cheese set this homemade macaroni and cheese apart. Top it with a dusting of cayenne and nutmeg and you’ve got a gourmet version of this comfort food favorite. Click here for the recipe.
Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal's Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.