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Rigatoni, Cheese & Pea Casserole (Pasticcio di Rigatoni e Piselli)
G. Franco Romagnoli
“Rich and cheesy, this pasta dish is sure to please the whole family.”
½ cup fine dry breadcrumbs, divided
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups low-fat milk, heated
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 10-ounce package frozen peas, thawed
1 pound whole-wheat rigatoni, or ziti
1 cup shredded fontina cheese
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 3-quart baking dish with cooking spray. Coat dish with ¼ cup breadcrumbs, tapping out the excess. Put a pot of water on to boil for cooking pasta.
2Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add hot milk and bring to a simmer, whisking, until smooth and slightly thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl; set aside to cool.
3Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add peas and cook for 4 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper. Add to the milk mixture.
4Meanwhile, cook rigatoni (or ziti) in boiling salted water until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and rinse well. Toss with reserved sauce and vegetables. Stir in fontina.
5Spoon the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish. Mix remaining ¼ cup breadcrumbs and Parmesan in a small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over the pasta.
6Bake pasta until golden and bubbly, 30 to 45 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 4. The pasta mixture will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.