Sunday, December 12, 2010

Creamy baked pasta

From weeks past: ricotta cheese, asiago cheese, bell pepper, frozen spinach, parmesan cheese

Staples: milk, butter, flour, pasta, olive oil, salt, herbs/spices

This week was almost a total bust. I told you about Monday's mushroom turnover disaster. As if that wasn't bad enough, Tuesday I made this:

Blood and guts and a bay leaf.

Sorry, that was unnecessarily graphic.... but true. I have come to the conclusion that beets should not go in stews. Except maybe if you're Russian.

The truth is, it tasted okay enough for me to eat it for a couple of meals. But it wasn't worth telling anyone about, and I threw a whole bunch of it away. Sad sad sad.

Two major failures in a row, I was so traumatized that I was forced to eat out Wednesday and Thursday nights. I began to wonder if I'd ever cook again!

Never fear; there's nothing a little bechamel can't fix. Seriously, if you're feeling bad about yourself, for any reason at all, you should make this. Butter, cheese, milk, cheese, pasta, cheese.

Too fattening, you say? I find over-dramatizing your troubles helps to quell the guilt.

Creamy baked pasta
1/2 lb rotini pasta
1 tsp olive oil
1 green bell pepper, chopped
8 oz frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
3/4 cup milk
2 cups asiago cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil over medium high heat. Sautee green pepper until soft and combine with defrosted spinach, ricotta cheese, salt, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, and herbs, in a large bowl. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350. Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente. While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a small saucepan or skillet. Add flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in milk and continue to stir until combined. Slowly add 1.5 cups of asiago cheese, stirring constantly. Leave on low heat, stirring regularly until the pasta is cooked.

When pasta is cooked, drain and add to ricotta/vegetable mixture. Spread pasta in 8x8 baking dish and top with cheese sauce.* Sprinkle top with reserved asiago and parmesan. Bake until brown and bubbly, about 20-30 minutes.

*This is how I did it, but next time I'll layer so there's sauciness all the way through. If you want to try it out, here's how I intend to do it: Spread half of pasta mixture in an 8x8 baking dish. Top with half of cheese sauce, then repeat layers.

1 comment:

  1. Rebecca, every fiber of my being is begging me for this pasta. Right. Now. I'm so glad you triumphed your kitchen disasters and came out with this little beauty!

    Melted cheese makes everything better. Fact.