There can never be too much pasta in my life, and this Cooking for Twosday pasta bake is no exception. It can be made almost entirely in the skillet, and has a creamy, alfredo-like sauce that is rich in cheese, flavor, and veggies.
I’m a huge Giada fan, and this pasta bake was adapted from her Creamy Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna. I’ve played with her recipe a lot in the past, but the base has always been her white sauce. For my pasta bake, I cut down her sauce to serve two, changed the lasagna to regular pasta, and made a couple of other prep and ingredient changes I think you might enjoy.
A couple of ingredients here are optional. The basil is optional because I’ve had it both with and without, and it’s still delicious. The chicken is also something you can add in if you’d like, which I often do. I can’t count the number of days that I’ve gotten to dinner, only to realize that I haven’t eaten any protein all day.
- 1 cup uncooked penne, bow-tie, or other short noodles
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 5-6 oz (about 2 cups) sliced white button or crimini mushrooms
- Kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- ¾ cup heavy cream, room temperature
- ⅔ cup whole milk, room temperature
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup shredded mozzarella, plus more for topping
- ¾ cup shredded parmesan, plus more for topping
- 2 tbsp freshly chopped basil (optional)
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 5 oz baby spinach, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup grilled chicken, cubed (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cook noodles in a 1.5 quart saucepan according to package directions, with a pinch of salt when adding noodles to the pot.
- Melt the butter and oil in an oven-safe cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat (cast-iron skillet preferred). Add mushrooms, toss with a pinch of salt and pepper, and saute until water has mostly evaporated and mushrooms are cooked through, about 12 minutes. Remove mushrooms from skillet, drain excess oil from the pan, and give it a quick wipe with a paper towel. (It doesn't need to be clean - there should still be some of the oil/butter mixture coating the pan.) Whisk in the cream, milk, and flour, and continue whisking until brought to just under a boil. Reduce to low. Sprinkle in both cheeses by the handful, whisking until melted before adding more. Continue to whisk until mixture is smooth.
- Remove from heat. Stir in basil, garlic, and spinach. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add mushrooms, pasta, and chicken (if desired), and toss. Top with more cheese. (I sprinkle about 2 tbsp of each cheese, but the combination is up to you!) Drizzle very lightly with olive oil and bake on center rack for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit 5 minutes to set. Dig in!
Use the rest of your basil & noodles with Lemon Basil Shrimp Pasta.
Use the rest of your mushrooms with Chicken with Creamy Mushroom Sauce and Parmesan Linguini.
Use the rest of your heavy cream with Creamy Alfredo Sauce, Herbed Potato Leek Soup, or Chocolate Fudge Tartlets.