Sunday, February 21, 2010

Baked Pasta Shells and Broccoli (but with macaroni)


I'm always up for trying new pasta and "cheese" recipes so I decided to make Baked Pasta Shells and Broccoli (page 224) but with macaroni. The recipe uses the Mornay-Style Cheeze Sauce (page 552) that Gymmie also made previously.

The Mornay sauce came together easily and is also low fat as it uses cornstarch to thicken instead of a roux. I think though that this would have been better with more fat since it is baked (more on that below). What I liked about the Mornay sauce is that it used vegetable stock instead of plain water. It added a fuller flavour to the sauce, but of course it depends on how good your stock is. I like to use Bryanna's broth powder or the Seitenbacher brand powder.

The entire dish was nice and super creamy before it went into the oven but after it came out, not so much. The pasta absorbed almost all the sauce as you can probably tell from the pic. Now, I do make mac & "cheese" a lot and I know that there is some absorption after baking or in the fridge but this was a huge amount of absorption. The only difference really between my usual sauce and this one is the fat. I make a full fat roux (margarine and oil) for my own. Maybe someone can enlighten me on whether fat content in a sauce would affect absorption?

Regardless, the dish was still tasty, just a little drier than I would like. If making this, I would suggest coating the cooked macaroni with a bit of oil or margarine before adding the sauce, or using some fat in the sauce, or baking for less time, uncovered (to crisp up the breadcrumbs), or skip the baking entirely, or make an extra batch of sauce to serve on top, which is what I did today with the leftovers.

Ms. Veganorama


  1. I wonder if it's one of those pasta preference things -- I seem to remember Batgirl making a baked pasta that she thought was great *before* baking. Maybe Robin likes the dry-style mac and cheese recipes?

  2. I do prefer saucier pastas but I also make baked mac and "cheese" a lot too (with lots of fat) and it's never absorbed this much, even after baking and sitting in the fridge overnight. I think it probably has to do with the lack of fat in the sauce.

    The Mornay sauce was nice using vegetable stock. I'll probably start doing that with all my nutritional yeast or cashew sauces.

  3. Yeah, maybe the broth just gets soaked right in, as opposed to fat, which would kind of sit on top maybe? I'm sure Alton Brown or someone could tell us the exact food chemistry. I should check out that Mornay -- I'm always looking for a new cheesey sauce to try!

  4. I made this recipe with farfalle instead of shells and baked it for about 15 minutes uncovered instead of the 30 plus 10 uncovered the recipe recommends. It didn't get too dried out, so I think just shortening the baking time might fix the problem. In fact, it was really delicious. I will definitely, without a doubt make it again.

    I have a question about my mornay sauce. I put the cornstarch in before processing and it was thick and lovely. After processing to smooth it all out, it was super runny and never thickened up again. Was I supposed to wait to add the cornstarch until after processing?

  5. Hi Ginger! Interesting about the mornay sauce. I actually didn't bother to process it so I'm not sure about processing and then it being runny. Maybe the processing breaks up the gelatin-like properties? I guess next time, process and then add the cornstarch afterwards.

    Also I think if I make this dish the next time, I may only bake for a short amount of time like you did or skip the baking altogether.

  6. You did double the sauce or at least 1 and 1/2 it, right? I've made this a few times now and it doesn't seem dry to me, but I almost missed the 3 cups needed of the sauce for this recipe and the sauce recipe normally only makes 2 cups.

  7. Hi Linda, I did in fact double the mornay recipe for this and used the entire 4 cups of sauce in it. I can see how that can be easily missed though.


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