The midnight cheesy pasta recipe combines beans and tomatoes with a rich cheddar cheese sauce and twisted pasta. It is extra cheesy and needs no meat. The sauce is well seasoned and has real cheddar cheese melted into it instead of the strange powdered stuff found in commercial pasta and cheese products. The flavors of the dish are intensified when it is baked in a casserole dish. Each serving can be topped with extra shredded cheese at the table.
As with all casseroles and one pot meals there are endless variations of the recipe. Some are mentioned in the notes that follow. This recipe is the quickest homemade version I know of other than using a can of cream of cheese soup for the sauce. From the earliest pioneer times to the present day American cuisine has been built around casseroles and one pot meals.
The recipe will serve 4 to 6 depending on the size of the portions. Serve with extra shredded cheese, crisp rolls or hot breads and a green salad for a complete meal. A nice dessert would be a fruit crisp or a slice of pound cake with fruit.
Midnight Cheesy Pasta
- 8 oz. dry pasta, any shape
- 1 can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed well
- 1 can of stewed tomatoes, drained
- 1/3 cup of butter (approximate)
- 1/2 cup of all purpose flour (approximate)
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard, heaping (or horseradish or diced hot pepper)
- 1 teaspoon Hungarian smoked paprika, heaping
- 1/2 teaspoon each salt and black pepper
- 2 or more teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons of chicken bouillon (mix with the liquid)
- 1/3 cup or more of sliced or shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 1/2 cups of water or half milk and half water
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese for the table
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F and prepare a large casserole dish by lightly greasing it.
Open the can of beans. Drain and rinse well. Set the beans aside. Open and drain the can of tomatoes. Set the tomatoes aside. Slice about 6 to 8 slices of cheese from a brick of cheddar, cut each in half. Set the cheese aside to add to the sauce. Shred a 1 inch thick or larger chunk of the cheese brick to serve with the casserole.
Bring a large pan of well salted water to a boil over high heat. As soon as the water comes to a boil stir in the dry pasta. Cook the pasta until almost tender. Do not overcook. It will finish in the oven. Drain the pasta and put into a bowl with a tablespoon of butter. Stir well and set aside.
Make the sauce by melting the butter in a large deep pan over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat and add mustard, paprika, salt, pepper and the Worcestershire sauce. Stir into the melted butter. Sprinkle in the flour, as much as it takes to absorb the butter and stir well to form a paste. Using a whisk slowly work in the water or half water and milk (add chicken bouillon) . Stir briskly with the whisk until the sauce mixture is smooth. Have thin slices of the cheddar cheese nearby. Return the pan of sauce to the heat and stir with a wooden spoon while it comes to a simmer and begins to thicken. Drop in the slices of cheddar cheese and stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is thick.
Add the drained pasta to the hot sauce and stir well. Stir in the drained beans and the drained tomatoes. Stir well and pour into a lightly greased casserole dish.
Smooth the top of the casserole. Bake uncovered in a 350 degree F oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove and allow to sit for 5 minutes or more before serving.
You can use any seasonings you like such as oriental or TexMex.
Leftover meats or cooked fish can be added. Hotdogs can be laid on top and baked along with the casserole.
Diced or sliced onions can be added to the sauce. Cook the onion until tender in the butter then proceed as in the recipe. About 1/3 cup should be enough. Diced raw onion can be stirred in along with the other vegetables.
One large green pepper, cleaned and cut in small dice, can be added.
Fresh sliced mushrooms, about a pound, can be cooked lightly in the butter when making the sauce. Or a small can of button mushrooms can be drained and added into the casserole.
Bacon fried crisp, onion and Swiss cheese would be a good combination with the pasta. The sauce seasonings would be about the same but you could use part bacon fat in place of some of the butter for the sauce. This would be very good with mushrooms added.
The recipe was baked uncovered and there was no topping put on before putting it into the oven. However you can cover the top with buttered bread crumbs, crushed crackers or any other type of casserole topping you like. Goldfish crackers on top might appeal to kids.
Any type of bean can be used in the recipe. Either canned or leftover cooked beans.
1 inch cubes of fried eggplant or squash can be added.
I didn’t use a casserole dish. I have a Dutch oven sized multi-purpose stainless steel pan that I prepared the sauce in, added the other ingredients to and then put in the oven to finish. It saves time and dish washing. Otherwise I would have baked the casserole in a Pyrex rectangular glass baking dish. If you do that do not forget to set the oven temperature 25 degrees cooler.