The Cooking Chronicles: Baked Comfort

As far as comfort foods go, baked pastas are pretty high up on my hit list. We definitely have our favourites, but I’m always willing to experiment with other recipes as well. We recently tried two new dishes, and one came out with much better results than the other.

Baked Rigatoni with Béchamel Sauce

With leftover béchamel sauce from a lasagna made earlier in the week, I decided to use it up by making Giada’s baked rigatoni with béchamel sauce.

The recipe was easy – maybe too easy – and just involved mixing prosciutto-and cheese-spiked béchamel with cooked rigatoni, transferring the mixture into a baking dish, then topping it with cheese before baking. The only change I made to the recipe was substituting the mozzarella I had kicking around in the fridge for the fontina.

Baked Rigatoni with Bechemel Sauce

Baked rigatoni with béchamel sauce

While it wasn’t a complete failure, it just wasn’t all that interesting or tasty. It also had to be consumed right out of the oven, as the pasta became limp and dry without enough béchamel to keep it moist. Even Mack, who came home later that evening, found that the pasta had already passed its prime.

Baked Mac & Cheese with Little White beans

We had much better luck with baked mac & cheese with little white beans, from Spilling the Beans. Similar to the risotto we had tried last month, this recipe sneaks in little white beans, covert in creamy white sauce.

Even without the beans, the recipe would have been a fine rendition of mac and cheese, with just the right amount of cheesy goodness (we used a mixture of old cheddar and gouda), and a crispy, buttery panko crust (I substituted panko for the whole wheat bread). With the beans, some of the guilt of eating such a calorically-high dish was dissipated, especially given the serving size could be reduced with the addition of a filling and healthy protein.

Baked Mac & Cheese with Little White Beans

Baked mac & cheese with little white beans

Best of all, we had loads of leftovers that reheated very well. Mack was a happy camper for a few days with this lunch to look forward to! Thanks Julie and Sue for another great recipe for the repertoire.

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