Well, we all know I love pasta. It’s like I have a pasta disease, really. I just can’t help it. Pasta is a weekly must for me. I find pasta filling and definitely worth the calories when it is done correctly. I tried a little different pasta dish this week. It’s based around hearty rigatoni and creamy cheese. Yes, big surprise I used cheese. It’s also a disease I have… There is no cure for pasta and cheese disease. However, this dish comes pretty darn close at healing my ailments.
Can you really go wrong with four cheeses and pasta baked together until creamy and bubbly? No, you can’t. If you think there is something wrong with this, give this recipe a shot. It will change you. This dish is delicious. The pasta is baked with a four cheese sauce and topped with panko bread crumbs and cheese. It doesn’t get much better than this. You can customize this recipe for your tastes. Almost any cheese would be delicious in this recipe. You can add meat to this as well if it floats your boat. Seriously, you need to make this and devour it soon. It’s deliciously amazing.
The first step is to boil your pasta. You want to undercook the pasta for this recipe since it will continue to bake in the oven. So boil it for about 4 minutes less than what the box instructions say. Drain the pasta when it’s done and set it aside. Grate the cheeses and place them in a large bowl together. Go ahead and reserve ½ cup of the shredded cheese for later.
Next, you will need to work on making a roux. Bring a large skillet to medium heat. Add the margarine and onions together. Cook the onions until they are soft, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Next, add the flour and whisk it about 2 to 3 minutes to create a roux. It should be golden brown when you are done.
Once the roux is made, add the milk to the skillet and stir continuously for 2 minutes. Add the cream cheese and all of the shredded cheese (except the reserved ½ cup). Stir the cheeses together until the mixture melts and thickens, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add in the salt and pepper. Give it a quick taste to see if you need to add more seasoning.
Stir the pasta and cheese sauce together. My skillet wasn’t large enough, so I did this in a separate bowl. Make sure you all the pasta in the cheese sauce. Once it is well coated, pour the pasta and cheese into the prepared casserole dish.
Sprinkle the panko bread crumbs and the reserved cheese on top of the pasta. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the pasta is bubbly. If the top is not browning enough, turn on your oven’s broiler and keep an eye on it until the top reaches your level of golden brown.
This four cheese baked rigatoni is amazing. It’s creamy, crunchy, and oh-so-cheesy. Of course, you can play with the cheeses in this recipe. You can also add less or more for your own personal tastes. This is a great dish to play around with flavors and additions. I don’t think this needs meat, but you could add in cooked chicken or bacon if you desired. This is very bold in flavor and very filling. This recipe will be made again and again. I’m looking forward to playing around with the cheeses in it!
Four Cheese Baked Rigatoni
Total calories: 3,905
- 1lb rigatoni pasta
- ¼ cup diced onion (any type of onion will work)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 5 tbsp lite margarine
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups 1% milk (any milk will work)
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
- 8oz fat free cream cheese, softened (can use reduced fat or regular instead)
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded or grated
- 6oz extra sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
- 4oz gouda cheese, shredded
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a large casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- Place the three grated cheeses in a bowl together. Boil water and cook the pasta according to the directions, but boil it for 4 minutes less than the called-for time. Drain the pasta and set aside.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add in the margarine and onions and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the onions are soft. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add the flour to the skillet and whisk or stir about 2 to 3 minutes until you create a golden brown roux.
- Add the milk to the skillet and stir continuously for 2 minutes. Add in the cream cheese and almost all of the grated cheeses. Reserve ½ cup cheese for later. Stir until the cheeses melt and the mixture thickens, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add in the salt and pepper, add more if it needs it. Mix the pasta and the cheese mixture together. Pour the cheesy pasta into the prepared casserole dish.
- Sprinkle the panko and reserved cheese on top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until top is golden brown.
If your panko bread crumbs aren’t getting golden brown, turn the broiler on. Broil the top of the dish until it has reached your desired crispiness. Just keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn!
5 tbsp unsalted butter for 5 tbsp lite margarine
1/3 cup bread crumbs for 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
Substitute any cheeses you would like in this recipe. You could also use mascarpone, fontina, or gruyere in this recipe and they would all work well.