Versatile and Delicious Béchamel Pasta
- 1½ boxes pasta (regular, 3 minute, brown rice,etc.), cooked according to pkg directions
- 3 Tbsp oil
- 3 heaping Tbsp flour
- 2½ cups milk
VARIATION #1: PENNE A LA VODKA
- 1 cup bיchamel sauce
- ¾ cup marinara sauce
- ¼ cup cream cheese
- 2 cubes frozen basil
- ¼ cup vodka
- Parmesan cheese or fresh basil, for garnish(optional)
VARIATION #2: CHEESY SPINACH PASTA
- 1½ cups bechamel sauce
- 1 cup shredded cheese, divided
- 4–6 oz (110–170-g) frozen chopped spinach,defrosted and drained
- 1 cube frozen garlic
- 1 cup marinara sauce, divided
- salt, to taste
For the bechamel sauce: In a small pot, heat the oil. Add the flour and stir until well combined. Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens. Add salt to taste. If the sauce gets too thick as it cools, reheat over a low flame with additional milk. Serve warm over pasta.
FOR VARIATION #1: Mix sauces, cream cheese, basil, and vodka over low heat until cream cheese is melted and fully incorporated. Serve over pasta. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese or fresh basil for an upgraded look.
FOR VARIATION #2: Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C). Heat the bechamel sauce with 1⁄2 cup shredded cheese, spinach, garlic, and salt until cheese is melted. Add pasta and stir until sauce is evenly distributed. Spread 1⁄2 cup marinara sauce on the bottom of an 8-inch (20-cm) square pan. Add pasta, then top with remaining 1⁄2 cup marinara sauce and 1⁄2 cup shredded cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, uncovered, until cheese is browned and bubbling.
(Originally featured in FamilyTable, Issue 670)
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