If you’ve been with me for a while, you may remember that last fall I attended a dinner with Alison Roman who is quite a diva in the culinary world. She has published two cookbooks and her recipes are a regular feature in Bon Appétit and the New York Times.
What I like about most of her recipes is that they are simple to prepare and don’t require a lot of ingredients. These days when cooking is more of a challenge than usual, those are welcome qualities. That is especially true on a rainy day which is not conducive to making a special trip to the store.
In searching her recipes I found this one that is perfect for a gray Saturday as it falls into that comfort food category. Here it is all ready to pop in the over later, and I have no doubt it will be a tasty treat. Too, it is enough for more than one meal which is a real plus these days.
Baked Pasta with Cheddar & Broccoli Rabe
1 lb. rigatoni, ziti or fusilli
8 T. Olive oil, divided
3 large leeks, white and pale green parts, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced into half mooms
1 t. Crushed red pepper flakes
2 bunches broccoli rabe, trimmed and coarse lay chopped*
1 c. Heavy cream
12 oz. sharp white cheddar, coarse lay grated and divided
1 c. Chopped chives, divided*
1 c. Coarse breadcrumbs or panko
Cook pasta in boiling water, generously with kosher salt, for about 5 minutes less than package directions. Drain and reserve 1 cup of the liquid. While pasta is cooking, heat 5 T of olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add leeks and season with salt and pepper. Cook until softened and starting to brown, 8-10 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and broccoli rabe stirring to combine and cooking until wilted and bright green. Adjust salt and pepper and remove from heat. Add pasta to mixture along with cream, 3/4 of the cheese, 1/2 cup chives and reserved cooking liquid. Mix well and season with salt and pepper.
Put the mixture in an ovenproof 3 quart baking dish and top with bread crumbs that have been tossed with 3 T olive oil and salt and pepper. Then sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake at 425 for 30-35 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is slightly browned. Scatter with remaining chives before serving.
*I did not have broccoli rabe and substituted broccolini. I think broccoli would be fine as well. Also missing from my pantry were chives, so Italian parsley was substituted.
You know recipes are a great starting place, but don’t be discouraged from making a dish because you don’t have all the right ingredients. Substituting here and there is perfectly OK and you are likely to never know the difference.