A mother-daughter conversation on food and cooking (mostly)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Ode to Mexican Macaroni

The only thing Mexican about this macaroni casserole is that I happened to get it from my favorite Mexican cookbook (Mexican Family Cooking by Aida Gabilondo). It seems very Middle American to me. It’s cheap and delicious.

8 ounces elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions (I use whole wheat)
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 cloves garlic, mashed
½ teaspoon crushed oregano

Mix macaroni with butter, garlic, and oregano.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 16-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion in the oil until tender. Add tomatoes and bay leaf, season to taste, and simmer 5 minutes.

2 cups grated mild cheddar cheese
½ cup evaporated milk

Mix the macaroni, tomato sauce, and 1 cup of the cheese and put in a greased casserole. Top with the remaining 1 cup of cheese. Then pour the milk over all. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until browned and bubbly.
This is a very strange way of assembling a casserole--adding the garlic and oregano raw to the macaroni. But you’ll find it tastes sharper and more interesting that way. You’ll be tempted to go ahead and eat the buttery, garlicky macaroni before you finish the rest of the recipe.

This dish is infinitely variable. I use different cheeses, and I also like to sprinkle the top with chile powder before baking.

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