Macarrones (Macaroni Bake)

Can be made: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegetarian and Vegan Friendly

4 Jul · Written by Raquel Jones


Pasta dishes have secured a special place in Spanish cuisine, especially in Catalunya, which experienced a significant influx of Italian immigrants during the 19th century. While Canalones (Cannelloni) take the spotlight as a classic Catalan delicacy, Macarrones (Macaroni) hold their own as beloved everyday fare. You'll often find them featured on set menus at local bars or as part of the Menú del Dia (Menu of the Day).

This dish embodies the essence of mid-week or weekend comfort food. As a child, I eagerly anticipated this meal, and now as an adult, I've endeavoured to recreate it for my own family.

It's a straightforward dish, but its flavour profile is truly exceptional, thanks in large part to a surprising secret ingredient: pâté.

I had an aversion to pâté as a child because my mother would prepare it from scratch, and I knew exactly what went into it. So, she cleverly kept the pâté aspect of this pasta dish a secret to ensure I would enjoy it!

Later in life, as I attempted to replicate the distinctive flavour of this dish, I discovered the hidden ingredient that made all the difference. While you don't necessarily have to include pâté in your version, I wholeheartedly recommend it, as it elevates this macaroni bake to a new level of culinary delight.

I also recommend a vegan version made with shitake mushroom that ensure you don't miss out on flavour.

Bon Profit! Raquel x

Macarrones (Macaroni Bake)

Serves: 4 -6 adults


  • 500g macaroni or penne pasta (substitute GF pasta)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 1 green capsicum, roughly diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 150g beef mince - substitute plant based mince or Quorn for vegan version
  • 150g pork mince - - substitute plant based mince or Quorn for vegan version
  • 50g pâté (any type) – optional, for a delicious vegan version tryOrganic Gourmet Food Vegan Pâté
  • 400g can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 100g grated cheese, such as Manchego (or a mild cheddar) - substitute vegan cheddar as DF or vegan option


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°
  2. Cook pasta until al dente with a pinch of salt and a bay leaf added to the water. Once done, drain pasta and mix through a tablespoon of olive oil to prevent pasta sticking together.
  3. Heat the remaining olive oil in a pan and sauté the onion and capsicum with a pinch of salt, until softened. Add the garlic and cook a further minute or two. Add the minced meat, with a further good pinch of salt and some black pepper, breaking mince up with a spoon whilst cooking.
  4. If using, add the pâté once the mince has browned slightly, and heat through. Add the chopped tomatoes and sugar and simmer on a medium heat for 10 minutes. The sauce should thicken. Taste sauce at this stage and season with more salt and pepper if required.
  5. Combine the pasta with the meat sauce and transfer to an oven proof dish. Sprinkle over grated cheese and a few pinches of butter.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted. If you like crispy edges of cheese, place dish under hot oven grill for 2 minutes prior to serving.


The dish can be made ahead of time and refrigerated prior to baking (prior to Step 6). Remember to add an extra 5-10mins to the oven time if you are cooking straight from a cold fridge.


For this indulgent dish, opt for a fruity, luscious red wine. Steer clear of those with excessive oak and tannins. Instead, aim for a wine that boasts ample acidity, as it can skilfully navigate through the layers of sauce and cheese.

Pair your macarrones with a refreshing green salad and complement it with a glass ofour savoury Tempranillo J, a well-balanced wine with delightful acidity and a subtle hint of oak.