Saturday, March 5, 2011

Cheesy Baked Pasta Casserole

This was really easy to throw together and used things I keep on hand--perfect for a last-minute meal option. It's originally from Woman's Day magazine.

12 oz. bowtie pasta
1 bag (12 oz.) broccoli florets
1 T. butter
2 shallots, chopped (I used green onions)
1 pkg. (8 oz) sliced mushrooms
4 c. whole milk (I used 2% and it came out fine)
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
ground pepper
1 bag (5 oz.) baby spinach (I just threw in two or three big handfuls since I don't buy 5 oz. bags)
1 1/4 c. grated white cheese of your choice
1/2 c. grated Parmesan

1. Heat oven to 425* F. Grease a 3-qt. baking dish.
2. Cook pasta according to package. Add broccoli the last 3 minutes of cooking. Drain and return to pot.
3. Meanwhile, melt butter in large deep skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and mushrooms and saute until tender (about 5 minutes).
4. In medium bowl, whisk together milk, flour, salt and pepper. Pour into skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened (about 5 minutes); stir in spinach. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup of white cheese and the Parmesan.
5. Pour sauce into pasta and broccoli. Toss to coat. Transfer to prepared baking dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
6. Bake until the cheese melts and is beginning to brown (about 10 minutes).

Note: As is typical with casseroles, this was better the second day. WD gives these instructions for making it ahead: 
1. After completing step 5, let casserole cool for 10 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
2. On the night you plan to serve it, remove casserole from refrigerator and replace plastic wrap with nonstick aluminum foil. Bake at 425* F. oven for 30 minutes; uncover and bake until beginning to brown (about 10 minutes). 
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