Baked Rigatoni with Butternut Squash, Mushrooms & Two Cheeses

        From the blog For Love of the Table

2 1/2 c. diced (about 1/2-inch) butternut squash (from a 14 to 16 oz. squash)

1 T. olive oil

Salt & Pepper, to taste

 

6 oz. crimini or white mushrooms, cut into wedges

1 T. butter, divided

1/2 T. olive oil

1/2 bunch of scallions, rinsed with the roots and half of the green trimmed away, and thinly sliced to make about 2/3 to 3/4 cup

 

2 2/3 c. whole milk

2 T. butter

1/4 c. all-purpose flour

Pinch of nutmeg

 

1/2 lb. rigatoni

 

4 1/2 to 5 oz. Dubliner cheese, coarsely grated

2 oz. Goat cheese

 

3/4 c. coarse bread crumbs (from slightly stale bread—see note)

1 T. butter

1 1/2 to 2 t. chopped Italian Parsley—optional

 

Toss the squash with olive oil to coat and season with salt and pepper.  Spread on a small baking sheet and roast in a 400° oven until tender, sizzling and golden—about 30 minutes.  Set aside and reduce the oven temperature to 375°

 

Warm a half tablespoon each of butter and olive oil in a medium sauté pan set over medium high heat.  When the butter has melted and the foam subsides, add the mushrooms and sauté, tossing occasionally until the mushrooms are golden and any liquid they have released has evaporated.  Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining half tablespoon of butter and the scallions.  Season with salt and toss to coat everything in the butter.  Continue to cook until the scallions are wilted and tender.  Set aside.

 

Generously butter a shallow 1 3/4- to 2-quart baking dish and set aside.

 

Prepare the béchamel: In a large saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer; keep hot.  In another large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  When the foam subsides, whisk in the flour.  Cook stirring constantly for a minute or two—the roux will be bubbly and straw yellow.  Remove from the heat and pour in half of the hot milk, whisking constantly until very smooth—it will thicken immediately.  Add the remaining milk.  Return to the heat and stir constantly until the sauce returns to a simmer.  Taste and season as desired with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

 

Cook the rigatoni in a large pot of rapidly boiling, well-salted water.  Stir occasionally and cook until the pasta is still very al dente—even more so than you would normally cook it, since it will continue to absorb liquid and soften while it is in the oven.  Drain.

 

In a large bowl, combine the pasta with the mushrooms and squash.  Add the béchamel and fold to distribute.  Add the Dubliner and fold in just until evenly distributed—the cheese does not have to melt.  Transfer to the prepared baking dish and scatter the goat cheese over the top.  Combine the breadcrumbs with the butter and parsley, if using, and spread evenly over all.  Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until hot through and bubbling just around the edges—about 20 to 25 minutes.  If necessary, place under the broiler (about 4 inches from the heat) until the top is golden.  Serve immediately.  Generously serves 3 to 4.

 

Notes:

  • Prepare breadcrumbs by taking slightly stale, “day old” bread and grinding in the food processor to form coarse crumbs. I use a local artisanal bread called “rosemary and olive oil” bread to make my breadcrumbs. So I will always have some on hand, I purchase a whole loaf, let it sit for a day or two and then cut the crusts off and grind it up. I then freeze the crumbs in a large ziplock freezer bag (pressing out as much of the air as possible to prevent the formation of a lot of ice crystals). 
  • You will need 6 1/2 to 7 oz. of cheese for this dish. If not using the goat cheese, but still using two kinds of cheese, grate both cheeses and toss them together. Fold all but a large handful of the cheese into the pasta, scattering the reserved handful over the top just before covering with the breadcrumbs.
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