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Recipe Review, Part 2: Giada's Spicy Baked Macaroni

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If my review of Giada De Laurentiis's delicious recipe for Spicy Baked Macaroni inspired you to try it for yourself, here is the recipe along with my suggestions for success.

Remember to reduce the pasta to 10 ounces, frequently check the consistency of the boiling pasta, and slightly increase the amount of crushed red pepper flake for best results.

Giada's Spicy Baked Macaroni

  • 1 pound elbow macaroni pasta (my suggestion: 10 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ pound assorted mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (my suggestion: 1 teaspoon)
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup plus 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup plus 1/3 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened, plus 2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 12 ounces mozzarella cheese, cubed
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the macaroni and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes (my suggestion: 6-7 min). Drain.

    Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are tender and the onion is golden, about 7 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, spinach and red pepper flakes and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. In a small bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, ¼ cup of the Parmesan cheese, and ¼ cup of the Romano cheese. Spread a 9 x 13 x 2 inch glass baking dish with the softened butter and sprinkle half of the bread crumb mixture inside the dish to coat.

    In a large bowl, combine the vegetable mixture with the cooked macaroni, cubed mozzarella, the remaining Parmesan and Romano cheeses, and nutmeg. Spoon into the baking dish and top with the remaining bread-crumb mix. Dot the top with 2 tablespoons of cold butter and bake until the top is golden brown, 30-40 minutes.

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