Baked Alfredo Pasta With Broccoli Rabe and Lemon
One of the great things about baked pastas is that you can get two different textures in one dish. Take the typical pasta Alfredo that's prepared in a skillet: It’s delightfully creamy and lush, but the same, bite after bite. But add a green vegetable to that Alfredo pasta, pile it into a dish, top it with melty cheese and a crunchy bread crumbs, then bake it, and you get a vegetarian dinner that's got it all. If broccoli rabe isn't your thing, you can substitute cut asparagus or broccoli florets.
- Serves: 4 persons
- Kosher salt
- 8tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
- ½cup panko bread crumbs
- 2cups finely grated Parmesan
- 1teaspoon fresh lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
- Black pepper
- 1pound casarecce, cavatappi or other small tubed or curly pasta
- 1bunch broccoli rabe, trimmed, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1cup heavy cream
- 1small garlic clove, grated
- 6ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Step 1Heat the oven to 500 degrees. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Place the butter in a 9-by-13-inch/3-quart pan or baking dish and transfer it to the oven to melt while the oven heats; remove it from the oven once it’s melted.
Step 2In a small bowl, stir together the panko, 1/4 cup Parmesan and the lemon zest. Add 1 tablespoon of the melted butter from the baking pan, stir until the panko is moistened with butter, then season with salt and pepper.
Step 3When the water’s boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 2 minutes less than the package instructions suggest. During the last minute of cooking, add the broccoli rabe. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water, then drain the pasta and broccoli rabe.
Step 4Whisk the cream, garlic and pasta water into the melted butter in the baking dish until smooth. Add the remaining Parmesan in large handfuls, vigorously whisking until smooth and combined. Add the pasta, broccoli rabe and half the mozzarella. Taste, and season well with salt and pepper. Stir until very combined.
Step 5Top with the remaining mozzarella, then sprinkle evenly with the panko mixture. Bake until the mozzarella has melted and the panko is golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.