This weekend got cold here in Michigan. Go find your winter coat cold. Some places it snowed cold. So cold. I don’t think I’m quite ready for winter yet. I need a rebirth of summer…back to beach days, splashpad days, long evenings, flip-flops, grilling, sunshine, and ice cream cones.
But I don’t think that is coming anytime soon, so you’ll just find me hunkered down sipping peanut butter hot chocolate and eating this bacon cheese baked ziti until spring.
This recipe was inspired by the Macaroni Casserole in the 100 Days of Real Food cookbook (affiliate link). I love that cookbook and most of the recipes in it, but this time I didn’t have exactly all the ingredients, so this baked ziti just kind of evolved. And what an evolution of ooey-gooey baked goodness it was.
But this baked ziti also has a secret. It’s secret is orange, soft, and packed with yummy nutrients. Can you guess what it is? If you guessed sweet potato you would be right! The sweet potato blends right in and adds a thickness and sweetness to this dish. It’s also a great way to fool your kids into eating their vegetables.
- 1½ cup dry penne pasta, cooked according to directions
- 1½ Tablespoon butter
- 1 Tablespoon minced onion
- 1 teaspoon garlic
- 1 Teaspoon flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1½ cups bacon cheese or cheddar cheese
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 medium sweet potato, purreed in food process with a touch of milk until smooth
- 4-6 pieces of bacon crumbles, saving half a slice for topping
- 2 Tablespoons panko bread crumbs
- Cook pasta according to package directions. In a small saucepan melt butter. Stir in onion and garlic to melted butter and brown for a few moments. Add in flour, whisking well. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add milk. Heat milk to a boil and hold 1 minute. Reduce heat and simmer milk until it begins to thicken, approximately 5 minutes, whisking throughout. Turn off heat. Add yogurt and spices to milk. Stir in cheese and sweet potato puree until well blended and melted. Add cheese sauce and crumbled bacon to cooked pasta and stir until pasta is well coated. Pour into 8x8 pan or pie plate. Top with breadcrumbs and bacon crumbles. Bake at 450 for 15 minutes.
Hope you get a chance to make this Bacon Cheese Baked Ziti. We still had some of our fancy bacon cheese left from our trip to Shipshewana so I used that in this recipe, but cheddar would be amazing as well. Just add more bacon if you’re so inclined. 😉
I must say the fall colors have exploded here in Michigan! It may be cold, but it sure is pretty! We took a cold, walk yesterday–all bundled up, of course– the trees were so pretty and striking and it felt good to be out in the crisp air.
So go for a walk in the cool fall air and then come inside and warm up with this bacon cheese baked ziti.
What’s the weather like in your neck of the woods?
What’s your favorite type of food to make when it’s cold?
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