Baked Rigatoni with Bechamel Sauce & Garlic Sauteed Spinach

Baked Rigatoni with Bechamel Sauce & Garlic Sauteed Spinach

Secret Recipe Club

It’s time once again for Secret Recipe Club’s Group A reveal. 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).

Baked Rigatoni with Bechamel Sauce with added 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 Baked Rigatoni with Bechamel Sauce. 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

Baked Rigatoni with Bechamel Sauce & Garlic Sauteed Spinach
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6-8
For the Sauteed Spinach
  • Ingredients
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1¼ pounds spinach, trimmed, well washed, and dried
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and very thinly sliced
For the Pasta and Sauce
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ 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
  • ½ pound smoked turkey sausage, julienned
  • 1 pound dried rigatoni
For the Sauteed Spinach:
  1. 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:
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and grease a 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!
  6. 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 dish 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!

Don’t forget to scroll down and visit the other amazing dishes in the SRC Group A Reveal today!

Baked Rigatoni with Bechamel Sauce & Garlic Sauteed Spinach

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    • says

      Thank you! The dish is sadly not mine, it is my best friends Fiestaware. haha I was feeding her kids that night and had to plate it with her plates, which was perfectly okay with me, because it’s such a fun color!! :)

  1. says

    i’m sorry to just now be commenting…it’s been a crazy week. but i’m SO glad you liked this pasta! thanks for your sweet post. it’s the best! i like your spinach idea but i think my husband would stage a mutiny if i changed this recipe, haha. it sounds delish so maybe it’d be a good side option! and your cat does look like mine…how funny! our sheba is really quite a queen. she lives up to her name (we kept her name from the shelter)… thanks again :)

    • says

      Sarah, lol it took me three days to notice you DID comment and actually find time to reply, so NO worries and I apologize for not replying sooner. haha
      I totally get it about the spinach. Interestingly enough, I was feeding kids that night who totally loved the spinach, but I have plenty of people in my life who would not have eaten it with spinach added. haha
      I actually love the name Sheba, it seems to fit her. 😉


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