Wednesday, February 07, 2024

Baked Rigatoni with Broccoli And Ham

 Baked Rigatoni with Broccoli and Ham

“This has too much cheese,” said no one, ever. Who doesn't love a creamy cheesy pasta casserole?  This one is made with a tender rigatoni pasta in a rich, creamy Bechamel sauce with tender diced ham. Oh and I threw in some broccoli to keep it healthy! 

Baked Rigatoni with Broccoli And Ham

8 ounces rigatoni
1 1/4 pounds broccoli stems and florets separated
2 cups of thick sliced ham, cut into strips
3 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus more for greasing casserole
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces mozzarella, diced
1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs
Olive oil

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. 

Heat a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the rigatoni and cook for about 6 minutes.  Remember, when cooking pasta for casseroles, make sure to salt the water generously. Never add oil to the pasta or rinse it when it's finished cooking.  Both will prevent your sauce from sticking to the pasta and your dish will be watery.  

Cut the broccoli into florets and add them to the pot with the rigatoni. Cook for 2-3 additional minutes. Do not over cook. Drain pasta and broccoli and transfer to a large bowl.  Add in chopped ham.

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir for about 2 minutes until flour taste has cooked off. Remove skillet from heat and pour in cream slowly while whisking to remove any lumps. Return to heat and add Parmesan cheese. Cook until sauce thickens and then add salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside off heat.

Add the mozzarella and half the sauce to the rigatoni and broccoli and ham and toss lightly.  Pour into a buttered 10-inch casserole dish and spread out evenly.  Spoon remaining sauce on top. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake uncovered until cheese is bubbly and melted. About 20-30 minutes.

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