I love serving this make ahead meal to my boys who are in the middle of football season and seem to be in a perpetual state of hunger. The meat sauce can be made ahead and has lots of onion and diced red pepper along with some red pepper flakes that provide a hint of heat. I use a six-ingredient Italian cheese blend and some. Marinated mozzarella balls just before heating in the oven. The individual baking dishes are a great way to save any extras that can get heated in the oven for another meal.

For an extra creamy and rich version of this dish, mix in 2 cups of béchamel into your pasta when you add the cheese.

for bėchamel:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups whole milk, warmed
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan on medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until a paste is created and bubbles a bit, without browning (1-2 minutes). Add the hot milk, whisking constantly as the sauce thickens. Bring it to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste, lower the heat, and continue stirring for 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat. You can add half of your cheese into the sauce before adding it into pasta.

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