The 2-Sauce Tip That'll Drastically Improve Your Baked Pasta

Pasta al forno with two sauces
Pasta al forno with two sauces - Angelika Heine/Shutterstock

From creamy mac and cheese to tuna noodle casserole au gratin, baked pasta is the ultimate comfort food. It's a dish available in various shapes, sizes, tastes, and textures. As demonstrated by the renowned lasagna Bolognese, or Greek pastitsio, a baked pasta dish can have two different sauces. Take this tip and elevate your next pasta casserole to delicious new heights. Specifically, try using cheesy mornay sauce with your tangy, bright marinara sauce.

If you're wondering what mornay sauce is, it's béchamel sauce with the addition of cheese. A rich, cheesy white sauce married with the sweet and acidic flavor of a tomato-y red sauce is a glorious match. The dish becomes a beautiful orange hue, the colors and flavors melding in the oven. Be sure to top it with a layer of sharp parmesan cheese, for that iconic crust. Crafting two sauces might seem like a devoted effort, but this labor of love is exactly what your baked pasta needs.

Read more: 11 Of The Best Cooking Tips From Bobby Flay

It's A Saucy Two-Sauce Occasion

Pasta bake topped with cheese
Pasta bake topped with cheese - Alhussein Alhadi/Shutterstock

To illustrate how a red and white sauce combination can elevate your baked pasta, diving into the two sauces separately is essential. With its royal origins, béchamel sauce is usually made with three core ingredients: butter, flour, and milk (and seasoning). It's creamy, smooth, and wonderfully mild. When it contains shredded cheese like gruyère or parmesan, it technically transforms into mornay sauce. A classic marinara sauce will likely have chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, tangy garlic, soft onions, and herbs like basil. It's rich, acidic, and bursting with savory flavors balanced with subtle sweetness.

Once these sauces are created separately, they can simply be combined, poured over your pasta, covered with cheese (for that crispy topping), and baked to perfection. This dish is exceptionally versatile when it comes to choosing a pasta shape, however, specific noodles prove more effective for the ultimate baked experience than others. Big tubes of rigatoni, layers of lasagna, or elbow-shaped macaroni, for example, either trap the sauce or create an impressive slice once cut.

More Two-Sauce Combinations

A bowl of mac and cheese chili
A bowl of mac and cheese chili - Liudmyla Chuhunova/Shutterstock

When experimenting with a two-sauce pasta bake, why stop with red and white? One of the best ways to use leftover chili is to combine it with mac and cheese for baked pasta exploding with smoky, spicy meat and rich, cheesy sauce. Layered with the comforting flavors of braised beans, savory ground beef, and warm spices like paprika, cayenne pepper, and cumin, chili mac and cheese is your new favorite way to use leftovers -- a comfort food dream.

Another source of inspiration for a two-sauce baked pasta dish is the combination of pesto and béchamel sauce. This creation is vibrantly bursting with basil and garlic notes, yet richly smoothed out by the white sauce. But the fun doesn't stop with the standard nutty basil pesto, as it can also be made with tart, sun-dried tomato pesto, or whatever pesto is currently your favorite.

Take this two-sauce baked pasta tip and free your culinary creativity. You'll be surprised by the delicious combinations that may emerge.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.