Kim’s Easy, Cheesy “It’s Okay” Penne Casserole with Arugula, Leek, Mushroom and Crunchy Bread Topping


Feeds 6-8

Courtesy of Kim Lane

“This is a good go-to dish for a busy family,” says Kim Lane. “Whether you deliver it unbaked, or bake it before delivery, it holds up well and is delicious.” Lane adds that if you’re delivering to a new mother, be sure to ask if garlic or leeks are an issue for her—you can easily omit or substitute other vegetables. In addition, a variety of cooked meats can be added for extra protein—add them to the mix just before adding the sauce.

Fairly difficult

Kim’s Easy, Cheesy “It’s Okay” Penne Casserole with Arugula, Leek, Mushroom and Crunchy Bread Topping


For 1 Batch(es)

For the casserole:

  • 1 pound(s) package penne
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 leek(s), light-green and white parts only, washed well, sliced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 bunch(es) arugula, cleaned, chopped
  • 1/2 cup(s) white wine
  • 3/4 cup(s) grated fontina
  • 3/4 cup(s) grated Grana Padano
  • 3/4 cup(s) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For the topping:

  • 1 tablespoon(s) butter
  • 2 slices crusty bread, crumbed in a food processor
  • 1/4 cup(s) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

For the sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 1 pinch(es) nutmeg

Kim’s Easy, Cheesy “It’s Okay” Penne Casserole with Arugula, Leek, Mushroom and Crunchy Bread Topping Directions

  1. In a large pot, cook the pasta in well-salted water until 2 minutes before al dente. Drain—reserving 1 cup of the cooking water—and set aside.
  2. In a pan over medium-high heat, add the oil, garlic, leek and mushrooms and cook until just tender—about 5 minutes. Add the arugula, wine, salt and pepper and cook until the greens slightly wilt. Butter a casserole tin. Toss the penne with the vegetable mix, add the cheeses, mix well, put into the casserole tin and set aside.
  3. Make the topping by toasting the breadcrumbs with the butter in a hot skillet until lightly brown and crunchy. Remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl to cool, then add the cheese to the breadcrumbs and set aside.
  4. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned and nutty smelling—about 10 minutes. Add the milk to the butter/flour mixture—whisking constantly to combine. Add the nutmeg and allow the sauce to simmer for 8 minutes. Add some of the reserved pasta water until the sauce resembles a chowder consistency.
  5. Remove from the heat and preheat the oven to 350°. Pour the sauce over the pasta/vegetable/cheese mixture, combine with a spoon, cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil, top with the breadcrumb topping and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Recipe notes

If you’re delivering the casserole unbaked, place the breadcrumb topping in a plastic bag on the side to be added later.

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