Posts Tagged ‘bechamel sauce’

A subtle hint was dropped last week that there was too much pasta on the menu. My response “definitely no Italian in your blood and suck it up because that’s the number one choice of the little people”. Suffice to say we went through a week of baked potatoes and now are back to having pasta in the rotation. Another hint came this week in that perhaps less tomato (healthy) based sauces and more alfredo (fattening) sauces would make the pasta more appealing. Wanting to please everyone I conceded…and this was the result.

Approx. 45 minutes from start to finish.

Alfredo Style Baked Shells with Peas, Parmesan and Pancetta

1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 – 3/4 cup pancetta (thicker slices cube it, thinner slices cut into strips)
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1.5 cups frozen peas
White Sauce (recipe below)
1 pkg (400-500g) pasta shells

White Sauce
This is your basic bechamel sauce. You can modify it very easily to suit your taste (add in different cheeses) and/or change it up each time. This version is also on the thinner side as it does thicken while being baked.

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
3 cups milk (we use 2%)
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tsp (or more) garlic powder (in this recipe I prefer powder to minced)
salt & pepper to taste

In saucepan make your rioux by melting butter in saucepan…med high heat.  Add flour and cook for approx. 1 minute without browning.  Whisk in milk, cream, garlic powder, salt and pepper bringing to a boil. I throw in a handful of parmesan at this point and mix until well combined. Reduce heat to low and simmer for approx. 10 minutes. Sauce will thicken slightly.

The main event

In small saucepan melt butter over med-high heat.  Fry bread crumbs, stirring until crisp and golden about 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and add 2 tbsp of  parmesan cheese.  Put aside.

In second saucepan cook pancetta and onion until bacon crisp and onion softened.  Add in garlic and cook for another minute or so.  Stir in peas and white sauce…combining everything and simmering for 2 minutes.

At the same time in a pot of boiling water get your pasta cooking and cook until just slightly under cooked.  Drain, return to pot.

Toss together pasta, pancetta mixture and remaining parmesan cheese.  Pour into greased casserole dish (8 inch approx).  Sprinkle with toasted bread crumb mixture.

Bake in 350 oven until pasta is bubbly, 20-30 minutes.

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