Lola Lilay’s (& Auntie Dita’s) Macaroni

Perhaps one of the most beloved dishes in the Esmilla collection of recipes is Lola’s Macaroni.  Originally it was always “Lola Lilay’s Macaroni” but on the East Coast it has morphed into “Auntie Dita’s/Lola Dita’s Macaroni”.

The cousins always thought this was a specialty to our family.  Imagine my shock to find the same exact dish being served at my Uncle Mac’s house in Los Angeles.  What’s wrong with that?  Uncle Mac is my Dad’s brother & NOT an Esmilla!  It turns out that Auntie Leny, his wife, is also from Laguna and it’s a mainstay in their family!  In talking to their daughter, my cousin Pia, we’ve found a lot of similarities to our mothers’ cooking thanks to their Laguna roots.

Another interesting thing about Lola’s Macaroni is that we tend to prepare this dish at the same time.  Last Christmas (2008) during our family phone calls over Christmas Eve & Christmas Day, we learned that Auntie Baby in Vancouver, Uncle Pito & Uncle Manny in NY, and  we in Houston had cooked the same thing for the Christmas holiday.  😀


  • Chicken breast – chopped
  • Chorizo – chopped – use pepperoni when Bilbao Spanish chorizo is not available – do not use Mexican chorizo – consistency is very different than Spanish Bilbao chorizo *
  • Vienna Sausage
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions – chopped
  • Garlic – minced
  • Margarine (or Smart Balance) **
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese (Kraft is great for this recipe)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Elbow macaroni


  1. In a pot, bring tomatoes to a gentle boil – enough to be able to peel skin away. After skin is peeled, drain and set aside.
  2. Chop chicken breast, chorizo & Vienna Sausage (pork optional).
  3. In a large sautee pan, brown garlic & onions in margarine.
  4. Add chicken & brown (or, if preferred boil chicken first, then chop into small bits).
  5. Add Vienna sausage, chorizo and then chopped tomatoes.
  6. Simmer and then add remaining ingredients.
  7. While simmering on low, boil pasta as directed on package. Do not overcook.  Drain well.
  8. Stir a large tablesoon of margarine on drained pasta. Fold tomato mixture into pasta and then sprinkle generously with parm.

*Chorizo de Bilbao is the Spanish sausage for this dish.  In the past, we always used Marca El Rey Chorizo de Bilbao but in recent years, their chorizo has become less available.  Filipino markets in the US (NY & San Diego anyway) started carrying Purefoods Chorizo but it wasn’t very flavorful and disappointment to cook with.  We’ve experimented with all sorts of chorizos and are still on the lookout.  If anyone finds a near equivalent, please comment!

**I know it’s bad and normally I can’t stand the taste but this recipe really, really tastes so much better with genuine margarine!  In fact, it just doesn’t taste like “Lola’s Macaroni” unless it’s prepared with margarine!  So please…don’t substitute!


4 thoughts on “Lola Lilay’s (& Auntie Dita’s) Macaroni

  1. Completely agree on the margarine thing – in fact, per Auntie Dita’s original recipe (that she gave me several years ago), I’ve been using I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-Butter for this recipe, and as much as I HATE that stuff, it’s not Lola’s Macaroni without it.

    A few variations that I’ve tried:
    1/Canned whole tomatoes (yeah yeah, I know.. lazy.. but I’ve found it works)
    2/I actually make the tomato sauce a little thicker so it sticks to the pasta
    3/I’ve found that adding extra chorizo at the very end enhances the flavor (chorizo loses it’s flavor when it cooks for a long time)
    4/I’ve started using Ronzoni Cavatappi pasta (it’s longer elbows with swirls and ridges) and love that the sauce and pieces of meat get stuck in the swirls & ridges
    5/I no longer boil the pasta separately; I actually cook it in the sauce with the extra chorizo

    • That is too funny about the Ronzoni Cavatappi pasta because I just used that recently for Lola’s macaroni! Great tip for cooking the pasta with the sauce & adding extra chorizo towards the end.

  2. Oh, and recently, Auntie Dita made the macaroni with Citerella Italian sausage, which Uncle Pito had dropped off for her – she actually called me just to come over and try it (probably because I’ve eaten and loved this macaroni so much that I qualify as an expert taste-tester), and it’s not Bilbao, but the closest so far!

    • I’m going to make a batch of Lola’s macaroni tomorrow but will be using the chorizo I picked up from a local market. It’s “ok lang” but maybe adding the extra at the end of cooking will help. I will look for the Citerella brand here.

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