Ah … fall is truly here … your children are back in school, friends have returned from summer travel, meetings have resumed, and the weather is cooler. Okay, well maybe the weather isn’t cooler. Honestly! Happens every year, right? Mother Nature snickers as we’re trying to obey fall fashion rules in 90-degree weather. Not to be dismayed, we can still enjoy fall’s treasures!
One of the treasures fall brings for me is reconnecting with friends we haven’t seen over the summer. Even while we’re getting back in our routines, it’s a wonderful time to gather a group of friends for an easy dinner. Claudia Heath’s Gourmet inspired Baked Pasta Casserole, page 138, is the perfect transitional dish. Warm and colorful, but not as heavy as the dishes we’ll crave in the middle of winter … when we really can wear our sweaters!
This is an easy pull together dish. Call a few friends and serve this with a salad and yummy bread. You can do it … it’s effortless!
Baked Pasta Salad
SERVES 8–10 Claudia Heath
2 cups finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, sliced
4 tbsp butter, divided
3 tbsp flour
2 cups milk
2 28-oz cans plum tomatoes, drained well, coarsely chopped
¼ lb thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into strips
1 cup shredded Fontina
1 cup crumbled Gorgonzola
1½ cups freshly shredded Parmesan
⅔ cup finely chopped Italian parsley
1 lb farfalle pasta
In a large skillet, sauté onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, basil, and oregano in olive oil over medium-low heat until onion is softened. Add mushrooms and sauté over medium-high heat for 10–15 min until mushrooms are tender. Transfer mixture to a large bowl.
In the same skillet, melt 3 tbsp butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour and cook the roux for 3 min, stirring continuously. Add milk in a stream, whisking until mixture is thickened, 3–5 min. Add sauce to mushroom mixture. Add tomatoes, prosciutto, fontina, Gorgonzola, 1 ¼ cups Parmesan, and parsley.
Cook pasta for 5 min – pasta will not be done. Drain and add to mushroom mixture. Transfer to a buttered 9×13 or 4-qt casserole. Top with remaining butter and Parmesan. Bake at 450° for 25–30 min.
- Casserole may be prepared earlier in the day or 1–2 days in advance. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before baking.
- You may substitute white button mushrooms for the shiitake mushrooms.
- For a gluten-free alternative, you may substitute pulled chicken for the pasta – approx 4 cups for one casserole. Casserole will be soupier and is good served over rice.
- Recipe increases well. Bake in two casseroles.
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