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
- 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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