Pasta dishes, whether hot or cold, offer variety of ingredients and flavors. You can easily prepare these favorites in advance, saving time and effort.
Do-ahead pasta casseroles include lasagna; baked ziti, penne or macaroni; and manicotti, with cream, tomato or cheese sauce, meats or vegetables. Cold pasta salads, which are best prepared in advance, are any mix of small-shaped pasta, vegetables, dressing and optional cheese and meat. Cook any pasta ahead of time and store it without sauce to use in recipes.
Making pasta dishes ahead is useful when large quantities of food are needed or time is short. Avoid waste by freezing a portion of a large recipe.
Let a refrigerated casserole stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking it. Alternatively, add 10 minutes to the normal baking time. Thaw frozen dishes in the refrigerator overnight before baking. Add more dressing to pasta salads before serving them if the pasta appears dry. When storing plain pasta, add oil to prevent sticking and store an airtight container.
Make pasta casseroles 24 hours in advance if you plan to refrigerate them. Casseroles freeze well for up to one month. Prepare pasta salads 24 hours in advance. Use plain pre-cooked pasta within three to five days, according to the National Pasta Association.
- Photo Credit Pasta image by Yvonne Bogdanski from Fotolia.com
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