These pasta shells are coated in the cheesy sauce to their maximum, therefore, you will get the ultimate cheese pasta casserole in just a few simple steps.
How about bringing the delicacy of Italian cuisine into your home today? The well-known fact that pasta is the culinary symbol for Italian culture is no longer a secret. This Cheesy Pasta Casserole recipe is about confirming you once again that there are no limits to creating perfect dishes. I don’t mind using the descriptive “perfect” for this recipe, since it delivers a real amalgam of flavor, fineness of texture, and gastronomic delight.
Let’s take it step-by-step so that I can deliver you not only the preparation method but the wild desire to taste it, as well.
Ingredients for a cheesy pasta casserole
Start with the pasta. For this pasta casserole, I chose the shells, which I truly recommend. The reason why the shells are the best option for this dish is that they can hold the cheesy composition inside its shape. As a result, each shell is loaded with melted roasted cheese… heavenly good!
As the name of the dish suggests, we will need some cheese… actually, a lot of cheese. Gather the sweet Gauda cheese, the deliciously melting Mozzarella, and the mighty Parmesan cheese. These three will work just fine since they complement each other’s taste and complete each other’s consistency. In addition, which other ingredients can be compatible with pasta to such an extent?! So, one cup of shredded cheese of each type is good enough.
Also, we need heavy cream and cheese cream to add softness to the dish. The amount of 16 oz of heavy cream and 8 oz of cheese cream is sufficient enough to get that creamy results we’re craving for.
Cherry tomatoes to add tanginess and soul to this dish. Upon cooking, their sweet-sour juice will balance the creaminess and sweetness of the cheeses.
Then the seasoning, the character-adding ingredients. Don’t forget to grab salt, paprika, and granulated garlic, one teaspoon of each. However, you can change the doses depending on your preferences. Honestly speaking, I dropped in two teaspoons of granulated garlic, blame me for loving garlic 🙂
Now the optional, yet, the very taste defining ingredient, is the nutmeg. You may grate the skin of one nutmeg into the cheesy combo. That will bring your mind to the bechamel taste. I personally skipped this ingredient for this specific pasta recipe, but it’s ok to add it.
Here’s the list of ingredients you will need to create this exquisite dish:
- Heavy cream 16 oz
- Shredded Gouda cheese 1 cup
- Shredded mozzarella cheese 1 cup
- Dry pasta (shells) 20 oz
- Cherry tomatoes 10 pieces
- Shredded parmesan to top the casserole 1 cup
- Salt 1 tsp
- Granulated garlic 1-2 tsp (depending on your preference)
- Paprika 1 tsp
How to cook pasta?
Cooking pasta is a very simple step in this recipe. However, let’s admit that cooking the “al dente” pasta can be tricky. To always succeed, there are small secrets. First, boil lots of water, it should be the 3:1 ratio of water to pasta. Second, salt the water well. The pasta will absorb the water with its saltiness during cooking and you will get very good tasting pasta just from the start. Third, drain the pasta when it’s still a bit hard. This is how you stop the cooking process and leave “space” for the pasta to soak in the sauce, whatever that is.
In any case, if you correctly follow the package instruction of the pasta you will get the needed results with minimum effort.
How to prepare the creamy sauce for the cheese casserole?
The sauce is the actual star of the dish. The better comes out the sauce, the more delicious your final result will be. Therefore, let’s pay close attention to it.
Grab a saucepan, pour in the heavy cream, and put it to heat. When you see it starts simmering, add the cream cheese and let it melt. Then, add in the grated gouda cheese. Add the cheese in small portions, don’t rush. Add one pinch then whisk, then add another pinch then whisk again. Use a whisk to ease the entire process. When you’re done with the gouda, get to the shredded mozzarella cheese. Continue adding the cheese slowly and whisking slowly until everything is well incorporated. Now season the sauce with salt, paprika, and granulated garlic. Always taste to check on what you get and if there’s something missing, always add it.
It is very important to emphasize that the sauce is to be cooked at low heat only! The slower it cooks, the better all the ingredients will blend and become one.
How to make the cheesy pasta casserole?
Now that you have the pasta cooked and the cheesy sauce ready, let’s get to the fun part. Start by washing the cherry tomatoes. Quarter the tomatoes and mix them with the cooked pasta. At this point, you need to mix the tomato – pasta shells with the sauce. In other words, it’s time to drown the pasta in the ultimately delicious and creamy sauce. Once you’ve combined them together, take a baking dish or casserole and grease its internal walls and bottom with butter or with a few drops of oil. You can use both ceramic or glass casseroles.
Lastly, sprinkle the surface of the deliciousness with parmesan. Top it with more cheese, there’s never too much cheese, never!
Preheat the oven at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes. Insert the casserole in the middle of the oven and let it bake for 20 minutes, or until you see a beautifully golden crust on top.
Take out the casserole and let it rest for about 10 minutes. Don’t rush to get your fork into it, it’s still very hot and you will not understand its taste at its fullest.
How to serve the cheesy pasta casserole?
Serve the creamy pasta with a nice glass of dry white wine. This drink pairs well with the cheese pasta because it will open up the taste. Also, you may consider combining the casserole with a refreshing tomato salad. No matter your option, make sure to enjoy it!
See more pasta dishes to find your favorite:
- Classic Spaghetti Carbonara from Scratch
- Creamy Fettuccini with Oyster Mushrooms & Asparagus
- The Classic Tomato Spaghetti with Basil & Parmesan
- Creamy & Fine Farfalle with Salmon
- Versatile Pasta with Mushrooms, Spinach & Tomatoes
- Sicilian Aubergine Pasta Recipe
Creamy & Cheesy Pasta Casserole Recipe
- Baking casserole
- boiling pan
- 16 oz heavy cream
- 1 cup gouda cheese shredded
- 1 cup mozzarella shredded
- 1 cup parmesan shredded
- 20 oz pasta shells dry
- 10 pieces cherry tomatoes
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1-2 tsp granulated garlic
- Boil the pasta according to package instructions and set aside
- Wash and quarter the cherry tomatoes and mix them into the pasta shells
- Bring to a boil the heavy cream in a saucepan, use low heat
- Add the cream cheese and stir for it to melt
- Gradually add the shredded cheeses, whisk continuously
- Add the salt, the paprika, and the granulated garlic, and mix. Turn off the stove
- Preheat oven at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes
- Take a big bowl and mix the pasta with the tomatoes, and the cheesy sauce
- Take a baking casserole, grease the edges and the inside bottom with butter, and pour in the cheesy pasta composition
- Top everything with a layer of shredded parmesan
- Insert the casserole into the oven and bake it for 20 minutes at 250 degrees, or until golden on top
- Extract the casserole from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes
- Serve with pleasure