BAKED RIGATONI WITH WHITE SAUCE AND MUSHROOMS

 

In the winter I like to make hearty, flavorful meals that are quick and easy; especially living in New England where we have harsh winters. When the snow starts to fall, drifting against my front door I go to my pantry looking for pasta. Instead of Lasagna noodles, I used Rigatoni to make an easy Baked Rigatoni filled with mushrooms, cheeses and topped with a Bechamel sauce. This is a basic sauce white sauce that anyone can make. Don’t let the French name fool you. Make a large salad arranging tomatoes, cucumbers, on endive lettuce. Top with feta cheese. Pour a light light balsamic vinaigrette over the salad. Serve with crisp fresh bread. And don’t forget a glass of wine! 

Ingredients

1 pound box DeCecco Rigatoni no.24

2 1/2 cups whole milk

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoon of sea salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

8 ounces portobello mushrooms, sliced

three leeks, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

1 carton (8 ounces) whole milk ricotta 

8 ounces fresh mozzarella, divided in half.

1/2 cup freshly ground Parmesan, plus 1 tablespoon 

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large (12-inch) saute pan. When the butter melts, add the mushrooms, sprinkle with salt, and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms are tender and they release some of their juices. Add sliced leeks and thyme. If the mushrooms are dry add another tablespoon oil. Saute for an additional 5 minutes to make sure leeks and mushrooms cook evenly Set aside.
  • In a small bowl combine ricotta, 1/2 mozzarella chopped and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese. Set aside until assembly.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil with 1 tablespoon salt. Add the rigatoni and cook for 14 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain and set aside.
  • For the white sauce, bring the milk to a simmer in a saucepan. Set aside. Melt 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) of the butter in a large saucepan. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture all at once. Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring first with the wooden spoon and then with a whisk, for 3 to 5 minutes, until thick. Set aside off the heat.
  • To assemble the baked rigatoni, spread some of the sauce in the bottom of an 8 x 10 baking dish. I used a Le Creuset dutch oven. Arrange a layer of noodles on top, then 1/2 cheese mixture topped with1/2 of the mushrooms, then sauce. Repeat 1 more time, layering noodles, cheese, mushrooms, and sauce. Top with a final layer of noodles and sauce, remaining mozzarella, sliced and sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon Parmesan. Add a touch of nutmeg on top.
  • Bake the lasagna for 45 minutes, or until the top is browned the sauce is bubbly and hot. Allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes and serve hot.
Enjoy!

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