It’s time once again for Secret Recipe Club’s Group A reveal and I made a Creamy Baked Rigatoni with Bechamel Sauce and Garlic Sauteed Spinach. This month I was assigned The Pajama Chef. I’ve seen her blog a bunch of times and I love her recipes, so I was super excited to dig in.
A lot of people in the SRC don’t know this, because I don’t publicly broadcast it anywhere, but I do the SRC Twitter account, scheduling everyones recipes to go out and get as much attention as they can. So I get to see ALL the blogs in the whole club and I tell you what, there are some absolutely amazing blogs in this club. The Pajama Chef is actually one I found when scheduling recipes. Like I said, I was pretty darn excited to get her blog.
Sarah’s blog is full of great recipes, and her cat Sheba Genevieve (I am in love with that name) looks just like my cat, Maple. Just like. Well, okay, Maple is fatter, but other than that, they look the same all the way down to the ONE foot being a different color. She also has another adorable cat, Misty (we used to have a Misty too).
Creamy Baked Rigatoni with Bechamel Sauce and Garlic Sauteed Spinach
It took quite some time to narrow down what we were going to make because the original list was pretty long. We finally chose her Creamy Baked Rigatoni with Bechamel Sauce and Garlic Sauteed Spinach (the garlic sauteed spinach was my addition). I chose this mainly because I was babysitting my best friends kids for 4 days while they played in Vegas, and I wanted something simple, filling and that could feed a small army, because with my 5 and her 5, I knew I’d need a lot. Turned out the night we made it, two of her’s were away, so I can safely say this comfortably feeds 8.
I usually don’t make any changes to the recipes I choose for SRC, and in this case, I followed her recipe exactly, with one small adjustment. I added garlic sauteed spinach to the recipe, mainly to impress my bestie that I was feeding her children well, but also because I was making the sauteed spinach for another recipe and I had extra. haha. Either way, the dish was amazing and it was the perfect choice! Rich, creamy, cheesy flavor and the smoked turkey sausage added the perfect touch. We will definitely be making this again! And again!
Baked Rigatoni with Bechamel Sauce & Garlic Sauteed Spinach
For the Sauteed Spinach
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/4 pounds spinach, trimmed, well washed, and dried
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and very thinly sliced
For the Pasta and Sauce
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 quart fat free half and half, at room temperature
- pinch of nutmeg
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 cup grated fontina, divided
- 1/2 pound smoked turkey sausage, julienned
- 1 pound dried rigatoni
For the Sauteed Spinach:
- In your largest saute pan, heat the oil over high heat until very hot, almost smoking. Add the spinach and cook, stirring furiously, for about 1 to 2 minutes, the spinach should turn bright green and wilt slightly. Add the garlic and continue to cook, stirring rapidly, for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and set aside.
For the Pasta and Sauce:
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees and grease a 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until smooth, approximately 2 minutes or so. Gradually add the half and half and stir constantly until the sauce is smooth and creamy. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. This should take about 10-12 minutes.
- Remove the sauce from the heat, then stir in nutmeg, ½ cup fontina, the sauteed spinach and the smoked turkey sausage. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the rigatoni and cook for about 5-6 minutes. Drain pasta and return to pot. Stir in bechamel sauce, spinach and smoked turkey sausage and stir well to coat. Pour mixture into your prepared pan. Top with the remaining shredded fontina. Bake for 25 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.
- I took it out every 10 minutes or so and stirred it all up again. I'm not a fan of crunchy, crispy pasta so I wanted it to stay super soft. Delish!
- Can be made up to a day ahead, refrigerated, and then baked right before serving—just leave out at room temperature for about 15-20 minutes before baking or add a few minutes on to the baking time.
We paired this Creamy Baked Rigatoni with Bechamel Sauce and Garlic Sauteed Spinach with a side salad and cheesy garlic bread and the kids all loved it! It was a huge hit and it kept them so full that nobody asked for dessert. Possibly a first. Definitely not a last, since we’ll be having this delicious Rigatoni again real soon! In fact, they raved about it so much to their parents, I will be making Creamy Baked Rigatoni with Bechamel Sauce and Garlic Sauteed Spinach for them too really soon.
Don’t forget to scroll down and visit the other amazing dishes in the SRC Group A Reveal today!