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Saturday, October 24, 2009

"Everyday Cooking"- Pasta al forno in bianco

Baked Pasta in White Sauce-Spinach Alfredo pasta with tomatoes

Two Spinach Dishes in a row? Yes....you guessed it right....I had quite a lot of Spinach in the refrigerator that needed to be used up! So, day before yesterday I made the Spinach Wheat dosa and yesterday this pasta.
Pasta is often considered as 'comfort' food for many people.And to tell you the truth....it is becoming so... to me as well. Especially, creamy hot pasta.....right out of the oven..with cheese bubbling all over it..nice golden crust...ohhh my..what can be more comforting???It's almost as comforting as 'Varan Bhat' (Maharashtrian yellow daal and rice)..except for few extra calories!!
It was not the case earlier though when I first came to USA.It took a while for me to 'develop' a taste for 'white sauce' based pasta.It was too cheesy and bland for my taste.But when I started to make it myself....it was much better.I could alter the ingredients as I wanted..change it to suite our taste. One more reason to like this pasta was that ....we got 'addicted' to Papa Johns 'Spinach Alfredo Pizza' sometimes with chicken and tomatoes..sometimes just plain. This Pasta comes close to those pizza toppings and has become one of our family favorites. I have shared this pasta with some friends and they instantly became fans too!

1 lb Pasta -
(Any kind like Ziti, Penne etc. I personally like Rotini because it can hold more sauce in it's ridges)
Shredded cheese-
(Either Italian blend of Parmesan, mozzarella, asiago. Or Just Mozzarella or pepper jack -1 block or 1 medium size bag
Whole milk (about 2 -3 cups) -little more may be needed
Spinach finely cut (2 cups)
Garlic 3-4 cloves
Black pepper (1/4th tsp)
Nutmeg (2 pinches)
Butter (2tsp)
Flour (2tsp)
Chili powder
Ketchup (2tsp)
Tomato slices (10-12)
Red chili flakes
Italian seasoning (rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil) -1/4th tsp

1) Cook the pasta in boiling water+salt, till al dente. Drain and keep aside.
2) To make sauce- Melt butter in a pan. Add finely crushed garlic, and flour. Fry for a minute or two.
3) Add spinach, fry for couple mins. Then add the milk. Keep stirring till the mixture comes to a boil and thickens like a paste. Add salt, Italian seasoning, black pepper, nutmeg, chili powder to suit your taste. Add the ketchup and stir.
4) To the above sauce, add the cooked pasta, 1/2 of the shredded cheese. Stir well. If the pasta looks dry, add more milk to the sauce. The pasta should have enough sauce.
5) Preheat the oven to 375 F. Transfer the pasta to the buttered baking tray. Sprinkle with 1/4th cup of milk. Put the round tomato slices on top of the pasta. Layer with the remaining cheese. Sprinkle red chili flakes and black pepper on top. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake for about 20 mins till cheese melts.
6) Remove the foil. Transfer to the broiler (heat should be from the top) till the cheese browns up a little bit (will take only about 2-4 mins), so that it forms nice crust on top.
7) Remove, serve hot
8) Enjoy!

Tip: You can also add chicken pieces to the pasta to make ‘Chicken Alfredo’ like pasta


  1. Dear Deepti,

    I recently had 'Pasta al forno in Bainco' at your place and it was more delicious than it looks in this picture. I would recommend my friends and fans to follow your blog regularly for more new and sizzling recipes.

    I will cook some dishes as per your recipe and upload photos on this blog.

    Thank you