Stock up your freezer by making several casseroles at once to save time. You’ll be glad you did.
This is a new stock the freezer recipe for my family this month. I had some frozen spinach in the freezer that I needed to rotate out and when planning our menu for the week, I came across this recipe on the Food Network website. Since I had all the ingredients on hand, I decided to give it a try. Not only is this dish a comfort meal, but it’s one of those one-dish make ahead meals I like for the freezer.
Makes 6 to 8 servings
- 1 (12-ounce) box or bag rigatoni
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 4 Tablespoons butter
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup white wine (I used whatever I had on hand)
- 2 cups milk
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess water
- 2 cups ricotta cheese
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, grated
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Cook rigatoni for 5 minutes in a pot of boiling, salted water. Drain and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Set aside.
To make the bechamel sauce:
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Sweat the onion and garlic for a few minutes until softened and but not colored. Add the flour and stir until a smooth paste forms. Gradually whisk in the wine and then the milk.
- Bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking constantly and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper, to taste. Let cool slightly.
- Transfer cooled bechamel to a large mixing bowl and add the spinach, ricotta, and eggs. Mix in rigatoni and transfer to a greased 9 by13-inch baking dish. Top with grated mozzarella.
- Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes.
- Remove foil and bake an additional 20 minutes, or until cheese is lightly browned on top, the center is no longer runny, and the sides are bubbly.
Add a side side and some bread with this and you have yourself a great family meal. The next time I try this recipe, I’m may add some mild Italian sausage, sliced mushrooms or diced chicken.