This is a recipe that I have made for years, often to use up leftover cheese and pasta. It is a great dish to use up those small amounts of dried pasta leftovers sitting in your pantry, or leftover chunks of cheese in the refrigerator. You know the bags or boxes of pasta that are not enough pasta to create a complete meal for the family, but you hate to throw them out? Save them up in a ziploc bag to make this pasta. The only thing you need to remember is that the various pasta shapes you use all should have similar cooking times. To keep the pasta from getting mushy after baking, I only boil it for half the recommended cooking time since it will continue to cook in the oven. I prefer to use short dried pasta shapes such as rigatoni, fusilli, or penne for this type of dish.
This dish is so easy to pull together, starting with a basic béchamel sauce. Once the sauce is made, I stir in about three (or four for real cheesy pasta) cups of various grated or shredded cheeses until they melt and create a thick, cheesy sauce. It works best if you have some cheese that is semi-soft or creamy. In this version photographed, I used grated Pecorino Romano cheese, Gorgonzola Dolce, Asiago, and a small piece of Taleggio cheese. I then fry up some sausage, diced pancetta or guanciale until golden brown though you could also use small cubes of diced cooked ham if you like. You can also stir in a cup of peas, or even some lightly blanched broccoli florets cut into small pieces, or simply skip the addition of meat for a vegetarian version. For me, this is true Italian comfort food. What is better than a dish of pasta bubbly hot from the oven coated in a cheesy, creamy sauce and topped with a golden brown, crispy crumb crust?
Deborah Mele Revised 2021
- 1 Pound Dried Pasta (See Notes Above)
- 3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
- 3 Tablespoons All-purpose Flour
- 3 Cups Whole Milk
- 3 to 4 Cups Mixed Grated Or Shredded Cheese (See Notes Above)
- Salt & Pepper
- 1 Pound Mild Italian Sausages, Meat Removed From Casings
- 1 Cup Panko Breacrumbs
- 2 Teaspoons Finely Chopped Parsley
- Salt & Pepper
- 2 Teaspoons Olive Oil
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.
- While the water is heating, in a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
- Once the butter has melted, whisk in the flour until smooth.
- Cook the flour mixture a minute or two, then slowly whisk in the milk.
- Season with salt and pepper, and continue to cook over medium low heat, whisking often, until the sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes.
- Stir in the cheese, and continue to cook over low heat until the cheese has melted, and the sauce is smooth.
- In a frying pan, cook the sausage over medium heat until cooked through,and lightly browned, about 7 to 8 minutes.
- Drain, and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. and lightly grease a 13 x 9 inch baking dish (or individual casserole dishes as shown).
- Cook the pasta for half the recommended cooking time, then drain and return to the pot.
- Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta, and stir to mix well.
- Stir in the sausage.
- Pour the pasta mixture into your prepared pans.
- In a small bowl, mix the topping ingredients with your fingertips until blended, then sprinkle on top of the pasta.
- Bake about 20 minutes, or until the pasta is bubbly and golden brown.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1559Total Fat: 111gSaturated Fat: 58gTrans Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 46gCholesterol: 312mgSodium: 2335mgCarbohydrates: 55gFiber: 2gSugar: 10gProtein: 82g