Baked Macaroni with Vegetables

Baked macaroni is an absolute classic. I bet most people will have their version of the dish – this one is mine. Its vegetarian, creamy and low cal.

What you need:
Macaroni / Chifferi Rigati, 2 cups
Skimmed milk, 1 cup
Refined flour / maida, 1 tablespoon
Emmental cheese, 2-3 slices
Zucchini (chopped), 1
Olives (pitted/chopped), 10-12
Red and yellow peppers (chopped), 1 each
Onion (sliced), 1
Pepper (cracked), 1 teaspoon
Oregano, 1/2 teaspoon
Salt to taste
Olive oil, 1 teaspoon
Butter, 2 teaspoons

For the white sauce / Béchamel:
Melt the butter in a thick-bottomed non-stick pan. Add in the flour and mix well without letting it become brown. This is the roux. Add the milk (a little bit at a time) and stir till you get a smooth paste. Cook till the sauce thickens. Season with salt and pepper. The sauce might seem a bit less for the amount of pasta but as it cools it will thicken further and instead of making a lot of white sauce, we will thin this out with the pasta cooking water. The recipe is low cal 🙂

For the vegetables:
Roast the bell peppers directly on the flame till the skin begins to turn black. Place the peppers in a bowl and cover with a lid. They will heat through and in about 5 minutes, you can scrape the skin off the peppers. This leaves you with the sweet flesh. Chop this and keep aside.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a thick pan. stir fry the chopped vegetables and season with salt, pepper and oregano.

For the pasta:
Boil about 2 liters of water. Add the pasta once it is boiling and add about 2 teaspoons of salt to the water while cooking. Some people add oil/butter to the pasta to prevent it from sticking. But I find that if you use a large enough vessel to cook it in, the pasta stays separate. Cook for about 11-12 minutes (or as directed on the packet). Drain and set aside. Keep about a cup of the pasta cooking water aside.

Mix the vegetables, olives and the white sauce with the cooked pasta. It is best if you do not keep the cooked pasta standing for very long or it will begin to stick. Thin out the mixture with the pasta cooking water to make a creamy (but not runny) sauce.

For the baking:
Oil the baking dish. Put the pasta into the baking dish. Arrange the emmental slices on top in order to cover the whole dish. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degree Celsius and bake at about 170-180 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes.


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