Last Updated on January 10, 2020 by Chef Mireille
Pizza Mac n Cheese is an easy one pot dish that comes together so quickly and any roasted leftovers you have lying around can be used to fortify this dish and transform the leftovers into something new.
I am in the middle of Bake-a-thon, an annual event where a group of bloggers publish 3x a week for the month of December with all recipes being made in the oven. As soon as it was announced, I made a list of recipes I would do, many of them sitting in my drafts for years. I even had planned to do sub themes for every week – one week savory, one week breads, etc. However, when December came upon us and my work schedule got a bit busy, all that planning flew out of the window and it was all about what’s easy and delicious and still baked in the oven. I did do one show stopper dessert, Sweet Potato Cheesecake Pie, but that’s probably the only more complicated recipe getting published this month.
This recipe came about quite naturally as I came home from work one evening feeling tired and lazy and did not have any leftovers in the fridge. I was in the mood for something more substantial than a bowl of cereal or a sandwich. Earlier in the day before I had left for work, I was rearranging some stuff in the fridge and had totally forgotten the package of mozzarella cheese on the counter. Well, it was super soft and creamy. No way was it going to grate. I thought the soft and creamy cheese would have such a great effect in a pasta casserole and this easy recipe was created.
Since it is the middle of the NY winter season with temperatures around 40 F, I was not concerned with the cheese being left out all day in front of an open window. If you live in a warm climate and don’t feel easy about leaving cheese out for a long time to get soft, you can still make this recipe using grated mozzarella instead.
I added some spinach just because I had some in the fridge and by adding spinach, I would feel better about eating this not so healthy dish since there are vegetables in it. It is a great way of sneaking vegetables into a kid’s meal. You can even chop the spinach small, so they would just think it was parsley or something like that, but I left the spinach leaves whole as I love spinach.
Dinner came together quite easily and I was able to get another recipe done for Bake-a-thon – Double yay!!!
IN THE MAKING – HOW TO MAKE PIZZA MAC N CHEESE
The soft cheese created a creamy coating on each macaroni, and not the melted cheesy effect you usually get, but it was just as delicious.
You can add any kind of leftover vegetables or meat you have lying around to fortify this dish even more. Throw your holiday leftovers – any roasted veggies or meat would make this pasta bake just as delicious.
Pizza Mac n Cheese
- 1 lb.package macaroni
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons mixed dried Italian herbs basil, oregaano, thyme, parsley
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 cups spinach leaves
- salt to taste
- 1 lb. mozzarella cheese at room temperature
- 1/4 cup bread crumbs
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook macaroni until al dente.
- Drain immediately and add olive oil. Stir to combine.
- In a pot, empty can of crushed tomatoes. Fill the can halfway with water. Swivel it around a little to get all the excess sauce in the can and empty into the pot.
- Bring to a boil.
- Add dried herbs, crushed red pepper and salt.
- Add spinach.
- Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
- Adjust salt, as needed.
- Mix macaroni with tomato sauce and mix until thoroughly combined.
- By hand, break the mozzarella cheese into pieces.
- In a large casserole dish, transfer half of the pasta mix.
- Sprinkle half of the mozzarella pieces on top.
- Add the rest of the macaroni.
- Add half of the remaining cheese on top.
- Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top.
- Add the remaining cheese pieces on top.
- Transfer to oven and bake for 45 minutes.
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Now Mir you are tempting me ! Mac & Cheese – wow ! Such a classic combo which is loved by all , beautifully made ! Perfect for a winter meal !
yes – all the flavors of pizza in a casserole is perfect for winter!
Rafeeda - The Big Sweet Tooth
I love this variation and I am sure this will be a hit with the girls if I make it… looks totally cheesy and delicious…
I am sure they will love it too!
Omg, this is absolutely incredible. Kids will go crazy if they see this fantabulous dish. Pizza,mac n cheese whatelse we need. My mouth is just watering here as well.
it is definitely a kid friendly treat 🙂
This is a delicious cheesy casserole for sure. My daughter would love this kind of mac and cheese and she wouldn’t mind the spinach too.
great – I am sure she would love it!
So cheesy and delicious!! Kids will love it.. such a tempting bowl of comfort for grown ups too!!
yes – its perfect comfort food for those of any age 🙂
Awesome Mir, this surely is so filling and tempting no doubt!..I won’t mind this for myself right now..
yes it is filling and en easy way to transform leftovers.
I love using leftovers like this in a baked dish. Adding cheese will hide the veggies from kids !!
yes you can even puree the veggies to make them more invisible!
I like the creamy and gooey texture of the soft mozarella. Nice one for winter.
thanks and yes its a dish that screams comfort food
The other day my son was asking why I have not done mac and cheese and tbh, I have not done till date. But this looks like a wonderful recipe. Love the idea of adding breadcrumbs at the top to have that crunch. Bookmarked.
yes I like the textural difference!
My pasta and pizza loving kids will devour this dish. I will have to make this for them some time.
they would love it and it is a great way to use up extra veg when you bits and bobs of different ones in the fridge – just throw them into this pizza casserole and kids will love it
strangely, my kids dont like mac and cheese (yeah, there are a few of us here too :-)) but these would be a treat to any kid who does, loved the pizza -twist on this orginal mac-n-cheese!
yes it is just the flavors of pizza in mac and cheese form. I think they might like this version!
oh yumm! who would say no to this deliciousness!!! My kids love pizza and mac n cheese, now this is bonus with both flavors, this will definitely be in our weekend menus in coming days!
this is definitely a kid pleaser – for sure!
This is a such a kid friendly dish that even picky eaters wouldn’t mind the vegetables sneaked in.
exactly – what kid wouldn’t mind pizza flavors in this casserole!
My daughter, who is very fond of Mac n cheese, would love this variation. I loved the addition of spinach in it making it healthier. My mac n cheese next time will be like this only 🙂
thanks – I am sure she will like this version
This is a cheesy casserole for sure. My daughter would love to have it anytime. I am sending her this link . Awesome Bake Mir
thank you – I hope she likes it!