Creamy Broccolini Rigatoni Hotdish
This one-pot meal is comfort food at its finest. It’s a vegetarian pasta packed with leeks and broccolini, which might make it sound more like a health-focused meal than a cozy casserole (though who says supper can’t be both?). But with heavy cream, melty cheese and bread crumbs, this dish is as cozy as they come. Try it this week and gauge your family’s reaction. If this casserole doesn’t top your family’s most requested list, we’ll eat stale bread for a year.
The base for this hotdish is a creamy sauce made with sharp white cheddar. The sauce clings to every noodle and every big crunchy piece of broccolini. This dish is full of aromatics, and it’s allium-forward and bursting with bright flavor. The red pepper flakes add just a touch of heat, but you can reduce the amount of red pepper flakes or skip them altogether if you like the spice toned down.
What really seals the deal on this meal as the ultimate comfort food is the thick crust of olive oil-infused bread crumbs and extra cheddar, which gives every bite a wonderful crunch that pairs perfectly with the creamy pasta. And it only takes 30 minutes from when you start boiling water to when you sit down to eat, which might be the most comforting aspect of all.
Cooking notes: When making the cheese sauce, be sure to sprinkle in the cheese slowly and let it melt between each addition. Cheese added too quickly will cause the sauce to become grainy. If the sauce cools completely before you add all the cheese, pop it over low heat for a few minutes to rewarm it — just enough so the cheese melts.
6 to 8 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Kosher salt, to taste
1 pound rigatoni
8 tablespoons L&B Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
3 large leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced and rinsed
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more for garnish
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons dry white wine
3 bunches baby broccolini, trimmed, cut into 1 ½” pieces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream
12 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, coarsely grated, divided
2 packages L&B Fresh Chives, chopped, divided
1 cup panko bread crumbs
- Fill a large Dutch oven with water, bring it to a boil over high heat and then season generously with salt. Cook the pasta according to package instructions, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, strain the pasta and set both aside.
- Return the Dutch oven to the stove, add 5 tablespoons of olive oil and heat over medium. Add the leeks and season with salt and black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are softened and starting to brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Add the red pepper flakes and garlic, and stir to incorporate.
- Stir in the white wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze it, and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the broccolini and cook, stirring occasionally, until bright green and fork tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl. Wipe out the Dutch oven.
- Add the butter to the Dutch oven. Once melted and foaming, sprinkle in the flour and cook, while whisking, for 1 minute. Slowly pour in the heavy cream and reserved pasta water, while whisking, until combined. Bring to a simmer, cook for 30 seconds, then remove the pot from the heat.
- Sprinkle in ¾ of the cheese, a few tablespoons at a time, whisking and letting the cheese melt between each addition. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the vegetable mixture, pasta and ⅔ of the chopped chives to the Dutch oven, and stir to coat in the cheese sauce.
- Heat the oven to broil. In a medium bowl, toss together the bread crumbs and remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil until well coated. Season with salt and black pepper.
- Scatter half the bread crumbs over the pasta, sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and finish with the remaining bread crumbs.
- Broil the pasta until the cheese is melted and the bread crumbs are deep golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes. Garnish the pasta with the remaining chives and red pepper flakes, to taste. Serve hot.
Recipe adapted from: Epicurious