From “Food Network Magazine Great Easy Meals”
1. Pick A Pasta
Cook 1 pound pasta as the label directs, then drain. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450˚.
- medium shells
2. Make the Sauce
Heat 5 cups milk in a saucepan. In a separate saucepan, melt 5 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Whisk in 6 tablespoons flour and cook, stirring, about 1 minute (do not let the flour brown). Slowly whisk in the hot milk, then bring to a simmer and cook 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Pour into a bowl.
3. Stir in Cheese
Add the hot cooked pasta to the sauce and mix in 1 pound grated cheese (about 4 cups) in any combination until melted.
- monterey jack
4. Add Protein and Vegetables
Mix in 2 cups (in any combination).
- shredded rotisserie chicken
- cooked sausage
- crumbled cooked bacon
- diced deli ham
- drained canned tuna
- thawed frozen peas
- thawed frozen spinach (squeezed dry)
- sliced roasted red peppers
- blanched broccoli
- boiled butternut squash cubes
- sautéed zucchini
- sautéed mushrooms
- chopped thawed frozen artichokes
- chopped pitted green olives
5. Make a Topping
Parmesan Breadcrumbs: Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet. Add ½ cup breadcrumbs and toast, stirring, 3 to 4 minutes. Let cool slightly, then stir in ½ cup grated Parmesan. Sprinkle on the pasta before baking.
Fried Shallots: Toss ½ pound thinly sliced shallots with 3 tablespoons instant flour. Fry in ½ inch hot vegetable oil until crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels and season with salt. Sprinkle on the pasta in the last 2 minutes of baking.
Buttered Almonds: Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet. Add 1 cup sliced almonds and ½ teaspoon paprika; toast 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat; add ¼ cup chopped parsley and season with salt. Sprinkle on the pasta before baking.
Herbed Panko: Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a skillet. Add 1 cup panko, season with salt and toast 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in ½ cup chopped herbs. Sprinkle on the pasta in the last 5 minutes of baking.
Spread the pasta in a buttered 3-to-4-quart baking dish, top as directed and bake, uncovered, until browned, about 15 minutes.
From “Food Network Magazine Great Easy Meals” by Food Network Magazine. Copyright ©2011 Food Network Magazine, LLC. Published by Hyperion. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.
Photographs by Charles Masters