Cavatappi pasta has lots of twists and turns to catch all that yummy cheese sauce.
This Cavatappi Pasta Bake coulda been Mac 'n Cheese but for the fact I had Cavatappi pasta on hand and not macaroni.
What is Cavatappi?
Cavatappi is kind of a cork screw type shape so it is excellent at providing nooks and crannies for all that gooey cheese sauce to stick to.
Fun fact.... cavatappi is sometimes sold as Scooby Doo pasta in North America. Seems to be a nod to the cartoon but no one seems to know for sure.
So... read your audience! If you are cooking for kids you may want to call this 'Scooby Doo Casserole'. If your audience is looking for what wine to serve with it then Cavatappi Casserole would seem appropriate!
This pasta bake is very forgiving.... it started with me wanting to use up a variety of cheeses that I had stocked in an effort to never run out of cheese for entertaining over Christmas.
I used a combination of Havarti, Swiss Cheese and Marble cheese. You can use any kind or combination you like as long as it is relatively soft and will therefore melt well. If you want to go for an Italian blend like mozzarella, asiago and parmesan either use baby parmesan, that is the texture of cheddar, or mix the soft cheeses in the body of the pasta bake and leave the grated older parmesan for the top garnish.
For the prepared mustard I used Hot and Sweet but regular mustard or Dijon would be fine too.
What I like about this is you blend eggs, milk, spices separately and then you pour that sauce over the pasta and cheese. It mixes in quite nicely and evenly.
I couldn't resist the crunchy topping that Panko bread crumbs would turn into. There is a bit of cayenne pepper in the sauce- almost imperceptible but it adds a bit of depth. You can increase if you like spicy food or just serve hot sauce on the side.
The recipe is written for 12 servings. You can easily cut it in half if that is the amount you want or to suit the ingredients you have on hand.
If you are serving a crowd or want leftovers -go for the whole batch. Or bake one and freeze one to bake later.
All in all, an easy comfort food casserole the whole family can enjoy!
Wine Pairing With Cheesy Cavatappi Pasta Bake
This dish is quite versatile. A red or white would both work. I would suggest a medium bodied Italian Primitivo for the red or simple Italian Rosso blend. Whites could be Soave for a fuller body or Pinot Grigio for everyday fare.
Cheesy Cavatappi Pasta Bake
- 4 cups uncooked cavatappi or macaroni
- 4 Tbsps butter
- 5 cups grated cheese I used Havarti, Swiss and mild Cheddar in equal parts
- 12 oz evaporated milk
- 4 eggs
- 2 Tbsps prepared mustard I used Hot'n Sweet
- 2 tsps Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 X 13 " baking dish with cooking spray.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta according to manufacturer's instructions. When pasta is done, drain in a colander and then transfer to a large bowl. Stir in butter to coat the hot pasta.
- Grate cheese in your food processor while pasta is cooking.
- Blend the milk, eggs, mustard, Worcestershire and cayenne together.
- Reserve 1 cup of grated cheese and stir the remaining grated cheese into the hot pasta, Then add the milk mixture and stir well. Pour into your baking dish.
- Sprinkle reserved cheese evenly over casserole, then sprinkle panko evenly over the casserole.
- Bake at 350 degrees about 40 minutes till cheese is melted and mixture is hot through.
- If freezing, seal the casserole once assembled and freeze. Heat uncovered from frozen. Check for doneness after 60 minutes. It may take 75 minutes depending on the depth of your casserole dish.