You know how sometimes you just need some cheesy, baked pasta in your life? I am here to help with those times. I love this Cheesy Mac Bolgnese because it’s (obviously) pasta baked with melty cheese and bolognese sauce, it’s easy to throw together, and it gets even better the second and third day as the flavors have time to come together. Great leftovers are a real plus when I have a busy week like this one… back-to-school means I am back to teaching… exciting but also crazy busy times! Cooking once and then not having to worry about cooking dinner for the next day or two is so helpful when I am getting back into the routine of balancing work and family.
Typically I make this with lean ground beef, but some chicken or turkey sausage would work great here as well. You can boost the nutrition factor by making some simple substitutions like using whole-wheat pasta, ground turkey, and extra veggies. This recipe makes a lot, and in addition to saving some for leftovers the next day, I like to freeze meal-size servings of the unbaked pasta for a quick and easy dinner later on. I put the frozen pasta in the refrigerator to defrost the night before I want to eat it, and then bake right before dinner time. Whatever you do, don’t skip sprinkling some good-quality fresh Parmesan on top of your pasta right before serving. The more cheesy goodness, the better, right?
Cheesy Mac Bolognese
Makes 10 servings
- 1 lb. elbow pasta (I prefer whole-wheat)
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 bell pepper (any color), chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb. lean ground beef or ground turkey
- 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- ½ tsp. sugar
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 ½ cups cheddar cheese, grated
- ¾ cups mozzarella cheese, grated
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions for al dente. Drain, rinse with cold water, return to the empty pot, and set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the ground beef and cook until browned, crumbling it into small pieces.
- Once the beef is browned, add the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, oregano, basil, sugar, and ¼ tsp. pepper to the skillet. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- Pour the meat sauce into the pot with the pasta and stir to combine. Sprinkle in the cheddar cheese and stir until evenly distributed. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour the pasta into a large baking dish, sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese and ½ cup grated Parmesan. Bake, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, until it is hot and bubbly throughout and the top just begins to brown. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with more freshly grated Parmesan.
Source: Kristine’s Kitchen.