Macarronada com Requeijão (or Brazilian Mac and Cheese)… It has been a long time since I have made this extremely cheesy, yummy dish. I still lived in Brazil, which means that it was about 10 years ago. Oh, boy! Time goes by so fast…
Macarronada used to be one of my favorite pasta dishes, because it is quick, complete, and a real crowd-pleaser. It even reminds me a bit of the very popular American Macaroni and Cheese that I so love.
It is indeed an excellent option either for a single person working long hours (me in Brazil) or for a full-time mother having to drive kids everywhere (me now). macarronada
If I told you that today was the first time that my husband tasted this macarronada com requeijão (Brazilian Mac and Cheese) and fell in love with this dish, would you believe it? He was so thrilled that I will have to make it again and again. Actually, I don’t even know why I took so long to make it here for the first time. Maybe it is because one of its key ingredients is not available everywhere in the United States. But it is not hard to find either. I think I was just being lazy. Well, the cream cheese spread in a jar (requeijão as we say in Brazil, or queso fundido as the Spanish-speakers here say) can be found refrigerated in Latin or Middle-Eastern supermarkets under different brands. This one is from Egypt!
It has a very creamy texture and can be simply spread on toast, Brazilian Cheese Rolls, or incorporated into a variety of dishes.
Give both the cheese spread and the penne pasta macarronada a try, and you will not regret it…. Actually, my only fear is that you may become rather addicted — to both. 🙂
Brazilian Mac and Cheese (Macarronada com Requeijão)
- 16 oz penne pasta (about 450 g) cooked al dente and drained (for a gluten-free version, use a gluten-free pasta)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 1-1/2 cup tomato sauce I used Arrabiata - a spicy marinara sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup fresh basil thinly shredded
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 8.5 oz store-bough cheese spread in a jar or HOMEMADE (or 240 g)
- 8 oz mozzarella cheese (or 227 g) shredded
- 8 oz rotisserie chicken shredded or fully-cooked chicken breast strips, cubed (I used the latter), (227 g)
- 1/3 cup parmesan cheese shredded
- NOTE: Store-bough requeijão is available refrigerated in Latin or Middle-Eastern supermarkets under different brands.
Preheat the oven to 350º F (180º C).
Cook the pasta al dente according the directions on the package.
Meanwhile, in a separate medium sauce pan over medium-high heat, sauté the garlic in olive oil. Pour the wine and let evaporate for about 1 minute. Mix the tomato sauce, the salt, the pepper, and the basil. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream, cheese spread, and mozzarella cheese until both cheeses melt. Mix in the chicken.
Place the cooked and drained pasta into a medium-sized deep glass baking dish (about 9-1/2 by 7-1/5 inches in diameter and 3 inches deep), pour the mixed sauce on top, and mix well to distribute the sauce evenly. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese on top. Grease one side of a sheet of aluminum foil with non-stick cooking spray or butter (to prevent the parmesan cheese from sticking to the foil) and then cover the top of the baking dish with the foil, greased side down . Place in the oven for approximately 20 minutes. Remove cover and let cook uncovered for 5 minutes more. Serve immediately with a fresh salad or steamed green beans.