casserole: take two

after my first casserole take, so many readers eagerly endorsed smitten kitchen's baked pasta with sausage and broccoli rabe. i had to see what all the fuss was about. but first, a confession: i only scanned the recipe before running to trader joes last week. thus the reason i forgot the sausage. and the fresh mozzarella. and the parmesan. but i did remember the broccoli rabe just as we were rolling up the register. it was like a high-speed chase scene as i raced back to the produce section, bypassed the bakery section, located baby broccoli after a very confusing explanation on the difference between broccoli rabe and baby broccoli that i still don't understand and somehow escaped without an atty meltdown.

luckily for my forgetful mama mind, i made thomas keller's roast chicken on sunday night (btw, thomas keller is the roasted chicken god) and had plenty of leftovers that happily found a home in this baked pasta dish. also as fate will have it, i am a cheese enthusiast of the highest order so our cheese drawer is almost always  (don't look now, we have some lonely 2 percent cheese slices (generic!), aged cheddar with truffles that i detest and a whisper of shredded cheddar) stacked with plenty of options for almost any occasion. i found half a bag of shredded mozzarella left over from a pizza last week and a large tub of pecorino that we had just for the heck of it. both of these worked out as excellent substitutes for the aforementioned forgotten cheese purchases. thank goodness.

my recipe is smitten's version cut in half, but i'm really kicking myself that i didn't make a full pan. she is right (of course!) it is the perfect winter meal. it's warm and comforting but not too heavy. but our household is three people and i am the only one who eats leftovers with any sort of regularity. although to be fair, atty wouldn't touch this, even though i told him it was mac and cheese, aka his favorite food on the planet. be forewarned if you come to our house, atticus is at the stage when he thinks a. we're trying to poison him at all times, b. he will only one variety of mac and cheese and 3. you cannot get him to try anything to see if he likes it unless you want to pin him down and shovel a noodle in his mouth as he kicks and screams. so i offered one bite, got a response of, "not" (atticus is trying to bring back that whole "not" thing from the 90s) and "made" him chicken nuggets, oranges and yogurt. mother of the year right here i tell you. 

Recipe: Baked Pasta with Roasted Chicken and Broccoli Rabe (inspired by Smitten Kitchen)

1/2 pound whole wheat penne
1.5 cups baby broccoli, chopped (remove most of stalks)
2 cups roast chicken, shredded
1/3 cup shredded mozarella
1/3 cup grated pecorino asisago

2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
1 clove garlic, grated
salt, pepper and nutmeg

cook pasta according to directions, add baby broccoli with five minutes of cook time left, drain both
add pasta, broccoli and shredded chicken to a large bowl
melt butter in sauce pan over medium heat, add flour, whisk till combined
add milk slowly, stirring almost constantly (it is a bit of an annoying step, yet essential!)
add garlic, salt, pepper and nutmeg
let bechamel simmer over low for about ten minutes (yes, keep stirring it)
remove from heat
add to bowl, along with cheeses, saving 2 tbsps of pecorino
mix to combine and pour into a 9x9 baking dish
if baking right away, top with remaining pecorino and bake at 350 for 30 minutes
if not baking right away, cover and refrigerate. when ready to bake let it sit on the counter for an hour to come to room temp, then add pecorino and bake at 350 for 30 minutes


  1. It is looking very delicious here in this post, I tried to make one by following your recipe but I spoiled the whole game, ma snakes got burn ha ha ha ha, but still it tasted nice cause I was very hungry .. Thanks for the recipe hope next time I'd be able to follow it properly.


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