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!
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 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 ounce) whole milk ricotta
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, divided in half.
1/2 cup freshly ground Parmesan, plus 1 tablespoon
- 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 bowel 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 a 8 x 10 baking dish. I used a Le Crueset 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 times, 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.