I actually remember when I first found no-boil lasagna sheets. I just couldn’t believe it. I was probably jumping up and down in the super market, making a spectacle of myself. The first time I made lasagna, I thought it would be easy. Little did I know that those noodles were the death of me. They were impossible to lay out in one piece, even if they were al dente. Every other part of the lasagna was easy – except those dang noodles. I quickly bought a batch and couldn’t wait to go home and try them out. Making lasagna couldn’t get any easier – and I swear, you would have never known they were not pre-boiled. It was magical.
Years ago, when I was really into making casseroles, I made a lot with un-boiled rice – that I baked in the oven until the rice was cooked. There always had to be enough sauce, but it was super easy, and always tasted good. For some reason I never thought to do that with noodles though. I think because I found those no-boil labeled noodles, I assumed they had to be a certain type in order for the noodles to get soft in the oven. I guess I was wrong…
I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit, and immediately cut it out. I knew they were onto something big. This recipe sat in my pantry for what felt like an eternity. I had to wait for the right time – this made a lot of mac and cheese, and I had to make sure I had enough kids to eat it. This past weekend we had some friends over, the oldest boy in middle school. Here was my opportunity. It was super easy to put together, and baked up perfectly. The sauce was nice and thick, the noodles were just the right consistency – not too soft, and not too chewy. Everyone loved it – in fact, my girls are still eating the leftovers, and loving every bite. I have to say – that garlic breadcrumb topping is something else….as you can see, I will definitely be making this again. And the best part? No noodles to boil, and one less pot to clean. Here comes the jumping again! Double bonus points!!
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt plus more
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 2 cups shredded cheddar, divided
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Preheat oven to 400°. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour; cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute. Whisk in milk and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook, whisking often, until a very thin, glossy sauce forms, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Remove sauce from heat.
Toss pasta and 1 1/2 cups cheese in a 13x9x2-inch or other shallow 3-quart baking dish. Pour sauce over (pasta should be submerged; do not stir) and cover with foil. Bake until pasta is almost tender, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt remaining 1/4 cup butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, panko, and parsley and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
Remove foil from dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese, then panko mixture. Bake until pasta is tender, edges are bubbling, and top is golden brown, about 10 minutes longer. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.
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