Guys here is how recipe “development,” in the loosest sense of the word, works at this blog and in this house. I tell Jay that it’s going to be sunny and I want to photograph something new. He says words like THAI, BEEF, CHOCOLATE CHIPS that go together in no way at all and I veto some of them and add some to his words and then make a recipe. I make it exactly once, then write what I did, then make adjustments based on how it turns out.
It’s a really scientific process. In the loosest sense of the word.
So the other day homeboy started talking about squash casserole, which I already have on this website. And then he went off and was like “you could do a baked pasta squash casserole thing with TOFU and CHIMICHURRI and BABY FINGERS!!!” And I was all “squash casserole and pasta. done.”
And so here we are. This isn’t a traditional mac and cheese in that there’s no creation of white sauce. It’s almost the exact squash casserole recipe I use for holidays, which is a riff off the one and only P-Dizzle (Paula Deen for those of you aren’t up with the hip lingo), which includes mayonnaise. This also includes mayonnaise. I actually used mayo in a baked pasta dish YEARS ago, also a Paula recipe, and it works really great. It doesn’t separate, stays creamy, and obviously scooping out the jarred stuff is way easier than making a milk+cheese sauce. So let’s not be afraid of mayo in our casseroles (I promise you can’t taste it even a bit) and get. to. town.
You need pasta, any short cut you like. You need squash, onion, garlic, sour cream, mayo, half and half, cheddar, and some kind of crackerish thing for the topping. Casserole + Pasta! Run extra tomorrow and get over it, I PROMISE this is worth it.
Crush the crackers any way you’d like! Food processor, bag, knife, hands, whatevs.
Now, we build! Add the pasta, mayo, sour cream, squash mixture, and half the cheese to the same pot you used to cook the pasta. Stir everything together and taste! Salt and pepper to your little heart’s content.
Now, how you bake this is up to you. I used the skillet I cooked the squash in because it’s big and pretty and I didn’t want to make another dirty dish. But you can use anything you like to bake ish in!
If you bake right now, go for 450F for 15 minutes until everything is hot and bubbly and browned. If you make this ahead and start it from a colder temperature, just put the cold casserole in a cold oven, THEN turn the temp to 45oF so the casserole and oven can heat gently together. It’s done when it’s browned and bubbly!
- 12 ounces short pasta, cooked to 2 minutes shy of al dente
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 3 medium yellow squash, sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 ounces grated sharp cheddar
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup crushed crackers, any kind you like, for topping
- If baking right away, preheat the oven to 450F.
- Preheat a large skillet to medium-high heat with a drizzle of olive oil. Add the squash, onion, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes until the veggies start to soften, then add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more.
- In the pot you used to cook the noodles, combine the noodles, squash mixture, mayo, sour cream, half and half, and half of the cheese. Stir to combine and taste; add salt and pepper to your preference.
- Pour the mixture into a large skillet or baking dish. Top with the rest of the cheese and the crackers. Bake at 450F for 15 minutes or until browned on top and bubbly.
- If baking from a refrigerated point, place the cold casserole in a cold oven, then turn to 450F. Let the casserole and oven heat through together; it will be done after about 45 minutes when hot and bubbly.