October 2, 2012

Baked Mac & Cheese with Marinara {Tales from the Trenches}

Baked Mac-n-Cheese with Marinara Sauce via The Naptime Chef

I am so excited to today to be participating in a virtual viewing party for my friend Phoebe. Tonight she is making her television debut as part of Team USA on Jamie Oliver’s new cooking show competition: Chef Race: UK vs US.  I’ve already set my DVR to watch it on BBC America! To celebrate Phoebe’s accomplishment (I can’t wait to see how she fares!) I am participating in this awesome virtual potluck party for her team featuring all kinds of classic American foods. For my contribution I am making our favorite baked macaroni and cheese with marinara. If there is any more all-American dish I don’t know it and it happens to be a naptime classic around these parts.

Like most delicious baked casseroles this dish is perfect for making in advance. Many times, like the day I made this, I baked the whole thing in advance and reheated it for dinner. It would also be a snap to just assemble and pop in the fridge until you are ready to bake it. Do whatever works for you! I got the idea to add the layer of marinara sauce to the bottom of the casserole from Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook. It gives the all-American favorite a whole new dimension that we all love.

For more awesome all-American fare please check out these additional contributions from friends of Phoebe and Team USA!:

Feed Me Phoebe: Kitchen Sink (Gluten-Free) Mac n’ Cheese
Cooking With Books: Apple Pie Shortcake
Creative Culinary: Spiked Apple Crisp
And Love It Too: Coconut Flour Apple Crumble (Nut-Free)
Sarcastic Cooking: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Bacon and Tomato
Umami Girl: All-American Macaroni and Cheese
Flavia’s Flavors: Pumpkin Doughnut Holes
The Promise 365: Grandma Mary’s Baked Beans
Women on Fire: Red, White, and Blue Muddle Sunrise
One Hungry Mama: Dulce de Leche Apple Pie
Mother Would Know: Basil, Sundried Tomato and Goat Cheese Pasta
Ronaldo’s Cucina: Cuban-Inspired Ground Beef
Chef Pippa Calland: Deviled Eggs
Stan Frazier: Shrimp Scampi
Sweet Dreams LA: Fuji Apple Bread Pudding with Southern Whiskey Butter Sauce
Chef Robin Bodwin: Bread and Butter Jalapenos
Rawstachio: Elvis Sandwich 2.0
Chef Cody Utzman: Grilled Rib Eyes with Olive Oil Smashed Potatoes and Sweet Corn Salad


Baked Mac & Cheese with Marinara


1 pound macaroni, cooked and drained
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 cup fresh marinara sauce
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a medium saucepan warm the mascarpone, ½ cup Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, and ½ cup shredded mozzarella until they are all melted together.

3. In a large bowl toss the melted cheese sauce with the cooked pasta.

4. Spread the marinara sauce on the bottom of 13 x 9 baking dish in one even layer. Pour the pasta mixture on top of it. Scatter the breadcrumbs evenly on top and dot with the butter. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is toasted and the cheese is bubbly. If the panko doesn’t toast as much as you’d like, turn on the broiler and toast for about 2 or 3 minutes – watch carefully!

Naptime Notes

Naptime Recipe Serving ideas

This cheesy dish is best served with some lean protein on the side. It should definitely be the richest thing on your table! It is even better the next day, reheated!

Naptime Stopwatch

20 minutes prep time, 30 minutes bake time

Naptime Reviews