Macaroni casserole, a baked casserole dish made with macaroni as the chief ingredient, is a classic European dish and one of the most popular forms of pasta casseroles. Macaroni, cheese, pasta sauce, seasonings and optionally vegetables, meat or fish are often included in the dish. It can serve as a delectable starter, side or main dish, and is a staple of northern European homes.
Ingredients and Preparation
Macaroni, cheese, flour, butter, milk, breadcrumbs and seasonings like dry mustard, pepper and salt are the basic ingredients required for preparing macaroni casserole. Other ingredients like corn, ground beef, ham and bacon are included in different variants. Macaroni can also be substituted with pastas such as mini penne or ditalini to make variations of this pasta casserole. Cheddar cheese or Parmesan cheese are popular choices for the dish, which may often be used in combination with other cheeses like Boursin.
The preparation involves cooking the macaroni in boiling salted water till al dente, and then draining it. The macaroni is mixed with pasta sauce such as a white sauce made with butter, flour, milk and cheese, and then topped with cheese and baked. The dish can be topped with buttered bread crumbs, which can be browned while baking. Alternately, a tomato based pasta sauce made with onions, tomatoes and basil may be used for the dish.
Macaroni casserole is served hot, mostly in the same casserole dish in which it is prepared. It is commonly eaten with ketchup. It can be served as a starter, side or main dish. It may be accompanied by green salad.
Mexican Macaroni Casserole: Ingredients like tomatoes, corn, taco seasoning and ranch seasoning are used along with macaroni and cheese for making this version. Ground beef or turkey is also a common addition.
Makaronipudding: This is the version of the macaroni casserole from Sweden, where it is prepared with leek, ham and cheese.
Makaronilaatikko: This is the name of the dish in Finland, where it is a traditional staple. Traditionally it does not include cheese, and minced meat is a common inclusion in the dish.
Imqarrun: This is the version of the dish in Malta, where it is made with egg and Bolognese style sauce. Bacon, chicken livers and peas are popular inclusions.
Macaroni cheese casserole is rich in folic acid on account of the macaroni used, and in calcium and protein from the cheese used to prepare it. Whole wheat macaroni can be used instead of regular macaroni to improve the health quotient of the dish. Low-fat variants of cheese may be used to reduce the calorie count. A single cup serving of the basic version of the dish contains about 460 calories, 28g fat (16g saturated fat), 80mg cholesterol, 1040mg sodium, 36g carbohydrate, 2g dietary fiber, 2g sugar and 18g protein.
The dish Frittata holds close resemblance to macaroni casserole. Frittata is an egg based dish consisting of ingredients like macaroni, cheese, vegetables or meat.