Is it a pasta or is it a cake?? I’m not entirely sure but either way this Three Cheese Pesto Pasta Bake is fantastic!
We’re kicking things off this week with a Three Cheese Pesto Pasta Bake that is nothing less than decadent. It’s part pesto/ricotta mixture, part spinach/sausage mixture and part white wine roux cheese sauce that brings everything together. Is it low calorie – absolutely not. Is it comfort food in a bowl – absolutely. Should you make this next time there’s a slight chill in the air and you need something that’s comforting and doubles as excellent leftovers – YES YOU SHOULD.
Good news for anyone out there that’s vegetarian – you can EASILY omit the sausage portion of this and make it 100% vegetarian with very little effort! You’re welcome, I’ve thought of everything! Carbs, Cheese, Optional Meat. Just here to make everyones fall a little bit more delish. Need some more baked pasta dishes… got you covered!
Our Fav Baked Pasta Dishes :
- Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese
- Cheesy Taco Pasta
- Baked Gnocchi
- Chicken Spinach Pasta Bake
- Penne with 5 (or 6) Cheeses
- Roasted Vegetable Lasagna
- Mushroom Lasagna
- Chicken Parm Gnocchi Bake
- Bolognese Stuffed Shells
- Spicy Mexican Mac and Cheese
Three Cheese Pesto Pasta Bake with Sausage
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 3 1/2 cups whole milk
- pinch of nutmeg and cayenne pepper
- kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 cup shredded fontina cheese
- 1 1/2 cups grated parmesan cheese, divided
- 16 ounces extra large rigatoni
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 8 ounces spicy Italian sausage
- 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- 6 cups spinach
- 1/2 cup basil pesto
- 1 cup fresh ricotta
- fresh basil and more parmesan to garnish
- Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 9in springform pan with cooking spray and dust lightly with a handful of grated parmesan cheese and set aside
- In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, once bubbling add in the flour and whisk continuously for 2-3 minutes until smooth. Add in the white wine followed by the milk, and cook for until thick, about 15 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and cayenne. Remove from heat and stir in the egg, fontina and 1 cup parmesan. Place over super low heat to keep warm.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, add olive oil and crumble in the sausage cooking until browned 5-6 minutes, remove sausage to a bowl and toss in the spinach stirring just to wilt, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat. Combine with the cooked sausage and crushed red pepper and set aside.
- Stir ricotta and pesto together, set aside.
- Combine the cooked pasta and the cheese sauce, layer 1/3 of it into the prepared pan followed by 1/3 of the ricotta mixture and 1/3 of the spinach and sausage mixture. Repeat so you have three layers ending with sausage and spinach. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup parmesan cheese on top.
- Bake in the oven till golden brown 35-40 min. Remove and let sit for about 30 mins. Remove the side from the springform pan sprinkle with torn basil and more parmesan.
This looks amazing. What would you substitute to make it vegetarian ?
just omit the sausage!
This looks like such fun!! I can’t wait to try this and share with friends who have children!!
can you make this a day ahead and then heat it up?
yes but it won’t be quite so moist since it dries out in the fridge
So… the last time I tried a recipe like this in a spring form pan (not one of your recipes!) while cooking, the sauce leaked out of the bottom and coated the bottom of my oven. It doesn’t do that when I make something like a cheesecake, so not sure if it was just a bad recipe or user error, but now I’m sort of scared to try this one.
you could line the outside of the pan in foil and place on a baking sheet to be extra safe
I’m absolutely making this for dinner this weekend! I don’t have a springform pan though. I have tons of round cake pans and various casserole dishes – would either of these be a good substitute?
any of them will absolutely work!
Is this a brunch or dinner item?
whatever you want it to be!
This was a fantastic recipe. It was loved by all the family.
So, so good! My family loved it. I subbed oatmilk for the whole milk and the sauce had the perfect consistency. The sausage didn’t wilt the spinach quite enough, so I’ll make a point to do that next time. Perfect fall/winter comfort food.
Made this tonight for dinner! So good! I also agree with another comment that the spinach did not wilt all the way when mixed with the sausage but everything else turned out well. Thanks for the recipe!
I love all you recipes and this one looks especially delicious. What could I sub for the flour to make it gluten free? Thanks!
I love all your recipes! This one looks especially delicious. Would you recommend a sub for the flour to make it gluten free? Thanks!
just an all purpose GF flour
If you make ahead is it best to bake it then freeze and reheat, or freeze before baking? If the second, should it thaw before baking?
I would make it, freeze it, thaw it and then bake it!
I haven’t been able to find GF extra large rigatoni….would regular size GF rigatoni work and if so, would I need to add more than the 16 ounces in the recipe, to account for the difference in size? Thanks!
Is there a substitution for egg? Family member has a egg allergy.