Mediocre macaroni gets makeover
Combining fresh foods with products you have in the pantry or freezer is smart cooking for those in a hurry to turn out a family meal. One of the best cookbooks designed to explain this style of cooking is The Convenience Cook, by Toronto writer Judith Finlayson (Robert Rose, 2003, $24.95). Here is a particularly easygoing example from the 125 recipes in her book.
If you can’t find the chopped pickled hot banana peppers she calls for, she suggests substituting a chipotle pepper in adobo sauce. Beans and Macaroni
Serves: 4 1 cup elbow macaroni 1 can beans in tomato sauce 2 cups tomato sauce 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 roasted red pepper, chopped
2 Tbsps. chopped pickled hot banana peppers
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs or panko crumbs 2 Tbsps. melted butter 1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook macaroni in a large pot of boiling, salted water until just tender, or al dente, about eight minutes. Drain.
In an 8-cup, greased baking dish, combine the hot macaroni, the beans, tomato sauce, Cheddar cheese, roasted pepper and banana peppers.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine crumbs, melted butter and Parmesan cheese. Spread crumb mixture evenly over macaroni mixture. Bake in preheated oven until top is golden and mixture is hot and bubbling, from 30 to 40 minutes.