Monday, March 7, 2011


So, I was browsing through one of my cookbooks the other evening and ran across a recipe for Pasta and Broccoli Al Forno.  Then there were other recipes with this guys name attached.  I began to think, hey this guy must be famous!  Just who is this Al Forno dude and how come everything he makes looks so good?
Only kidding folks....basically anything in the cooking world named "al forno" means baked in an oven - as in "forno" being Italian for oven.

So tonight I pulled out one of "Al's" recipes and made a fantastic version of macaroni and cheese hot out of my very own forno.  Toaster oven, of course.

The original recipe was for four servings so I've done my best to scale it down, however, even at 1/4 of the quantity it was really a bit much for me to eat at one sitting and weighing in at nearly 900 calories for the dish, it's probably not recommended unless you haven't had much else to eat for the day.  Knowing that everyone has appetites of varying degrees, if you eat like I try to, having some leftover for lunch one day is not a bad choice.  For any guys out there trying these recipes, this might be a good meal with nothing left for the fridge. So, take this for what it's it all if you wish or save some for later. 

Check out my small individual casserole
sitting inside a normal family sized 9x13 pan

On the good side, it really is delicious and once you've gotten this technique down you can tweek the ingredients to your hearts content.  Add some cooked chicken, swap the broccoli for some cauliflower or some frozen peas and carrots, add a few chopped tomatoes to the mixture.  Whatever you can think of.   

One note about baking casseroles for one. Obviously larger amounts go into a larger pan and will take longer to cook.  I've purchased a couple of small casserole dishes that I use for meals like this.  These run about 8x4 inches oval and about an inch tall and are oven safe.  Because it's much shallower than a 9x13-inch pan suggested for this original recipe it will not take nearly as long to bake.  For the amount below, baking time was cut in half from the original 40 minutes.  Keep this in mind as you might re-size some of your own favorite casserole recipes. 


4 ounces pasta (small penne, elbow, anything bite size)
1/2 cup broccoli florets
1 cup (4ounces) low-moisture part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 cup 2% milk
1/3 cup (2 ounces) freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, divided
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
1 egg, slightly beaten
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
a dash freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta for 7 minutes. Add broccoli and continue cooking 2 additional minutes. Drain and return the pasta and broccoli to the hot pan.

Add the egg to the milk (I used the measuring cup for this) and lightly beat to combine. To the pasta add 3/4 cup of mozzarella cheese, the milk and egg mixture, half of the Parmigiano cheese, onion and seasonings.

Spoon the mixture into a lightly greased baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining Parmigiano and mozzarella cheeses.

Cover and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until bubbling and browned on top. Remove and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Pasta and a salad - a perfect meatless meal.

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