Recipe: Rigatoni with Sausage and Spinach in a Bechamel Sauce

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Cookbook author and cooking instructor Marguerite Henderson shares one of her favorite pasta recipes with us. For more information about Marguerite, go here. 

1 lb. rigatoni pasta, cooked a little under “al dente”, since it will be baked again

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound sweet Italian sausage in bulk

1/2 pound crimini or other mushrooms, thinly sliced

9 ounce bag fresh spinach leaves

4 tablespoons butter

2 shallots, peeled and diced

¼ cup flour

1 cup whole milk

1 – 1 ½ cups chicken broth

½ teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ teaspoon white pepper

½ teaspoon kosher salt

Place undercooked rigatoni in large mixing bowl.

In a medium skillet, heat olive oil and saute the garlic for 1 minute. Add the sausage sausage and mushrooms, crumbling the sausage as you cook, cooking over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes.  Add the spinach and cook until wilted, about 1 minute.; cover the pan for quicker cooking. Place all ingredients in the bowl with pasta.

In the same skillet, heat butter.  Sauté shallots until soft.  Add flour, stir and cook on low heat for 2 minutes, stirring often.   Slowly whisk in the milk, broth and nutmeg.  Whisk on medium heat until sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes.  Thin out sauce with more broth if needed.   Add cheese, pepper and salt.  Pour into bowl with remaining ingredients.  Toss well.  Pour entire pasta mixture into a 4-quart baking dish or into individual au gratin dishes.  Bake at 350o, covered with foil for 30 minutes if using large baking dish, 15 minutes for au gratin dishes; remove foil and bake an additional 5 minutes to brown the top lightly.  Serves 6-8.

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