Baked ricotta and spinach rigatoni

  • 500g rigatoni
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 60g butter
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 35g all-purpose flour
  • 125ml white wine
  • 500ml milk
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 (300g) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess water
  • 500ml ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 250g smoked or fresh mozzarella, grated
Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4.
1) Cook rigatoni for 5 minutes in a pot of boiling, salted water. Drain and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Set aside.

2) To make the bechamel sauce: Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the shallots and garlic. Sweat the shallots 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.

3) Transfer cooled bechamel to a large mixing bowl and add the spinach, ricotta, and eggs. Mix in rigatoni and transfer to a greased 18 by 24-cm 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.

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