Check out this cheesy goodness. This is “Baked Penne Rigate with a Little Kick!” Creamy, warm comfort food at it’s finest!
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Let’s Talk Cheese Please!
We use three cheeses to make the creamy sauce for this penne rigate: sharp cheddar, pepper jack and Parmesan. You can make this recipe mild, medium or give it quite the kick by varying the amount of the pepper jack cheese you use. I will give you several options so you can pick just the right amount of heat for you. I strongly recommend you use good quality cheese that comes in blocks so you can freshly grate it. Pre-grated lower quality cheeses don’t melt as well or as smoothly.
How to Make a Cheese Sauce:
When making a cheese sauce you start with a roux (pronounced roo) A roux is a combination of fat and flour and is used to thicken a sauce. In this case we use butter for our fat. You can grate the cheese yourself using a cheese grater or make it quick and painless using a food processor. Make the roux by whisking melted butter, flour, sea salt and pepper together. Then add warm milk and allow to thicken a bit while stirring. Then add cheese and handful at a time. Stir until smooth and you have yourself a beautiful cheese sauce!
Bake in a Casserole Dish or Individual Size Baking Dishes!
If I am making this for the family I use a 9×13 glass baking dish, but when I have a dinner party I like to divide it up into smaller ceramic baking dishes.
Pour cheese sauce over pasta and top with extra cheese…
…pop in the oven and bake till crispy…
How to Chiffonade:
I like to garnish this pasta with diced tomato and a basil chiffonade, this is totally optional! To chiffonade, simply stack leaves, roll tightly and slice, op, serve and prepare to be very happy!
Making it Gluten Free and Just as Good!
If you live without gluten you don’t have to miss out on exceptional pasta! Jovial Foods makes the best gluten free pasta around. I am lucky enough to live by a store that carries it, but if you aren’t you can order it here! We also recommend Jovial Gluten Free Pastry Flour for the roux.
The Recipe: Baked Penne Rigate with a Little Kick!
This is “Baked Penne Rigate with a Kick!” Creamy, warm comfort food at it’s finest!
- 16 oz penne rigate pasta, cooked one minute under package instructions
- 2 cups whole fat milk
- 2 1/2 cups pepper jack cheese, freshly grated ( for mild use 1 cup, for med use 1 1/2 )
- 1 cup sharp cheddar, freshly grated (for mild use 2 1/2 cups, for med use 2 cups)
- ½ cup Parmesan, freshly grated
- 2 T butter
- 2 T flour
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 small tomato, diced
- 6 basil leaves, chiffonade
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and place oven rack in center position. Cook pasta one minute shy of package instructions. Choose mild, medium, or spicy version, then grate all cheeses accordingly and toss together
Set milk in a pan and warm on medium heat. Place a second large saucepan on medium heat, melt butter, add salt and pepper. Add flour to melted butter and whisk. This is your roux, it will thicken your cheese sauce. Slowly add warm milk to the roux, continually whisking and heat until mixture begins to thicken. When milk is thickened, add cheese a handful at a time (retaining the 3/4 cup for later) whisk cheese, slowly adding more as each handful melts. When cheese is completely melted and sauce is smooth turn off heat.
Place pasta in baking dish(es). Pour cheese sauce over. Sprinkle with extra cheese. Don’t worry about covering every nook and cranny, the cheese sauce will spread out as the pasta bakes. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until browned and crispy on top.
Note: This recipe is for spicy pasta. Measurements for medium and mild are listed below.
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