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Test Kitchen: Plan ahead with baked pasta topped with croutons, panko

By Jessica Rodrigo
Aug. 21, 2013 at 3:21 a.m.

Baked pasta is an easy go-to dish that can be made in advance and popped into the oven when you're ready to eat. Just heat it up long enough to the toast the croutons and heat the pasta throughout.

Baked pasta is an easy go-to dish that can be made in advance and popped into the oven when you're ready to eat. Just heat it up long enough to the toast the croutons and heat the pasta throughout.

The world is always changing, and the best you can do is keep up. That's why planning meals ahead of time provides a short reprieve from the constant hustle and bustle.

Baked pasta and cheese is an easy meal you can make ahead of time and pop into the oven when you're ready to chow after work or after a day working in the yard.

It takes little more than the amount of time it takes to cook pasta. If you can multitask in the kitchen, then you're good to go, but you can always take your time and manage the recipe pot-by-pot.

The butter is one of the most important components of the recipe. When you're melting the butter, this is the best chance to infuse other flavors into the cheese mixture. I used crushed garlic cloves and a little bit of nutmeg to flavor the roux, but you can use a variety of herbs, spices and alternative cheeses.

If you choose to use herbs, you could remove the herbs before adding the flour to avoid leaving pieces of the leaves in your end dish, or your can leave them in. It's the same idea behind using white pepper in Alfredo sauce instead of a black pepper which leaves specs in a creamy sauce.

The butter is also important because you can infuse flavor in the panko and crouton topping by using the same methods of adding extra taste for the crumb topping.

Have a recipe or a dish you want my to try? Email me at jrodrigo@vicad.com or tweet me via @EatsEatsEats. I'm always hungry.

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