Baked Cheesy Pasta With Wild Mushrooms
A more sophisticated take on mac and cheese, this golden-topped casserole has roasted wild mushrooms for a deep, earthy character, and melted fontina for the gooey factor. You can use any kind of mushrooms here. If you can’t get wild ones (also called exotic, and most of them are actually farmed), use whatever is available. The key is to roast them until they are well browned and crisp at the edges so the flavor intensifies. Serve this as a vegetarian main course or as a rich side dish to roast chicken or meats. You can assemble the casserole the day before. Just add a few minutes onto the baking time if it’s cold from the fridge when you pop it into the oven.
- Serves: 8 persons
- 1pound mixed wild or cultivated mushrooms, such as oyster, maitake and shiitake
- 3tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ½teaspoon kosher salt, more as needed
- ½teaspoon black pepper, plus a few grinds
- 2fresh rosemary branches
- ½pound orecchiette, farfalle or other short pasta
- ¾cup heavy cream
- ½cup fresh ricotta
- 5ounces fontina cheese, grated (1 1/4 cups)
- 2ounces Parmesan, grated (1/2 cup)
- 1teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage
- 1garlic clove, finely grated
Step 1Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Trim the mushrooms and cut into 1-inch pieces. Toss with the olive oil, the salt, a few grinds of pepper and the rosemary. Spread on a large baking sheet and roast, tossing once or twice, until golden brown and crisped around the edges, 15 to 18 minutes. Discard rosemary.
Step 2Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for at least a few minutes less than the package directs. (You want the pasta very al dente; it will finish softening in the sauce.) Drain well.
Step 3Turn oven up to 500 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together the cream, ricotta, fontina, Parmesan, sage, pepper, garlic and a pinch of salt. Stir in the pasta and mushrooms. Arrange in a shallow 2-quart gratin dish or 9- by 13-inch pan. Bake until cheese is melted and bubbly and browned in spots, 10 to 15 minutes.