Baked Pasta with Mushrooms, peas and Bechamel
I love Pasta bakes, don't you? You can get this ready a few hours ahead, dab with butter and keep covered until it's time to go into the
This recipe serves a good amount. Make it a one dish meal, any weekend night. It makes a beautiful impression too if you are having company for a crowd.
Ingredients: One pound of Pasta with a wide center like Rigatoni
One pound of assorted, cleaned, mushrooms. It's better to brush the dirt off and wipe with a paper towel. Mushrooms retain lots of natural liquid and shrink when cooking. Use any combination of mushrooms. I used baby Portabella.
2 cups of green peas (blanched) and optional
2 cups of Bechamel (recipe below)
2 tablespoons chopped white onion
several pats of butter (thin slices (6)) to add to your baking dish.
Salt for your pasta water (2 tablespoons)
one teaspoon of pepper.
One cup plus extra for serving of Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
A handful of Italian parsley to decorate your plate (optional)
Method: Put a 6 qt pot of water to boil. Add salt. While it's getting ready to boil, place your oil in a large skillet/saute pan and heat up.
Add your onion, a pinch of salt and cook until fragrant.
Add your cleaned, sliced mushrooms, to the hot pan and toss. After about 5 minutes, add the white wine and let evaporate and reduce until all the liquid is almost gone. You don't want the pan completely dry.
Place your pasta into the boiling water and cook. In the meantime, heat 2 cups of milk until hot but not boiling. Meantime, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in large, deep skillet. Do not burn your butter. If you burn anything, you will have to start over as it will effect the overall outcome and taste of this dish. Carefully add one tablespoon of unbleached flour at a time to your butter and mix with a wooden spoon. You will notice the Roux will slightly change color. At this point, turn your heat off and carefully add your hot milk a little at a time and keep mixing in a circular steady motion. You will notice your mixture will thicken some. Keep adding your milk until your mixture has thickened like a cream. If it's to thin, heat your pan slowly and keep mixing. If it's to thick, add a little milk, a tablespoon at a time. Add a pinch of Nutmeg and a teaspoon of salt.
Trouble shooting/ Be sure to use a flat skillet (that has a slight rim on it), that will help your Bechamel Aerate while cooking (advice the Late, Great, Marcella Hazan gave me, when I posed a question to her via Facebook).
To assemble your Pasta bake. Drain your pasta a little before-al Dente mark. About 4 minutes before it would normally be cooked. Your pasta will continue to cook in the oven, covered. Do not worry. Mix the pasta in a bowl with your mushrooms and peas. Place a 1/2 cup of Bechamel on the bottom of your baking dish. I use about a 10 inch baking dish. Pour about a quarter of your pasta mixture into a bowl and place some more Bechamel on top. Sprinkle your layer with Parmigiano Reggiano and repeat the process until you are at the top. Pour your remainder of your Bechamel across the top. Sprinkle with your remainder of your Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese and place your butter slivers across the top and cover.
Bake in a preheated, 350F degree oven for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake until golden, about 15 minutes more.
Serve hot. Buon Appetito!