Oven-Baked Spicy Macaroni
This was the first morning of the Fall that I actually woke up feeling cold- and that's saying something! And it was definitely not warmer as I walked home from work in the rain at 8.30 this evening! Now, if that is not the perfect scenario for crying-out for comfort food- I don't know what is!
I was tired, I was cold, I was wet... but I was home! And all the way back from the office I was thinking and re-thinking what I could do with the few ingredients I had in the fridge: bacon, paprika, tomatoes and a little Parmesan cheese.. so yes, this was maybe a little challenge- but the result was delicious all the same, as well as being quick and easy!
Whilst the macaroni boiled, I had time to chop a little onion, carrot and celery and to fry them together in a dry frying pan with a little chopped garlic. I then added a small, fresh red chili pepper with the seeds removed- I wanted this to be very hot and spicy- but I also wanted to live to tell the tale!
Next came the red bell pepper and the cherry tomatoes, some finely chopped fresh basil and some dried oregano, salt, pepper and nutmeg. With the heat turned up nice and high, I now added some tomato paste, a pinch of sugar and some ground cayenne.
I drained off the pasta and added it directly to the sauce- along with a good splash of milk
and stirred everything together well. Grate generously with nutmeg- along with the milk we have just added, it will give the sauce a flavor reminiscent of Bechamel- delicious!
Fill the pasta into an oven-proof dish and grate lightly with Parmesan cheese- ad a final sprinkle of pepper and chili and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes at a moderate heat until the cheese melts and the top layer of pasta begins to crisp-up a little... and serve piping hot, in more ways than one... and enjoy!