It’s official, spring fever is spreading fast. The one problem? Weather in the northeast hasn’t been on the same page. That’s where this baked pasta dish comes in. It has a comforting, cheesy sauce that 40 degree nights call for with fresh flavors that will satisfy all of your spring cravings.
This is a great recipe to try next time you're cooking for friends. The dish can be made up to a day in advance by covering and refrigerating the unbaked pasta mixture in prepared skillet. When you are ready to serve, remove skillet from fridge and let it sit at room temperature while waiting for your oven to preheat. Then you just bake it off according to the recipe. I'd love to hear how it goes!
Cheesy Baked Rigatoni with Peas, Basil and Purple Kale
Yield: 6-8 servings
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) and 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
1/3 cup and 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan, divided
1 cup ricotta cheese
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
1 cup shredded Fontina cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 pound dried rigatoni pasta
1 cup shelled fresh or frozen peas
2 cups coarsely chopped purple kale
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
Grease skillet with 1 tablespoon of butter. Sprinkle 1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese, coating completely.
Mix ricotta and lemon zest in a small bowl and set aside.
Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in milk and bring to a simmer. Then, reduce heat and cook until sauce is thickened, whisking frequently (about 20 minutes). Remove saucepan from heat. Whisk in Fontina and 1 cup Parmesan. Add egg and whisk to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set sauce aside.
Preheat to 375°. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until just short of al dente (pasta will continue to cook in oven). Without discarding the pasta water, transfer pasta to a large bowl using a slotted spoon or spider.
Add kale and peas to boiling pasta water and cook for 1 minute. Drain and add to bowl with pasta. Stir in cheese sauce. Add 1 cup parsley, and basil to pasta mixture and stir to combine.
Transfer half of pasta mixture to prepared skillet. Spoon half of lemon ricotta mixture over pasta. Cover with remaining pasta. Finish by spooning remaining ricotta mixture and 1/4 cup Parmesan on top.
Bake pasta for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan. Return to oven and bake until top is golden brown, about 10 minutes longer.
Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Garnish with remaining parsley and serve.