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Baked Penne Rigate with a Little Kick!

This is “Baked Penne Rigate with a Kick!” Creamy, warm comfort food at it’s finest!

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword easy pasta recipe, weeknight dinner
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Author Linda Spiker

Ingredients

Note: there are various measurements for the cheese sauce, so you can make it mild, medium or "with a kick". The first measurement is for "with a kick", the two measurements in parenthesis are for mild and medium.

  • 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

Garnish: optional

  • 1 small tomato, diced
  • 6 basil leaves, chiffonade

Instructions

  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

Recipe Notes

Note: This recipe is for spicy pasta. Measurements for medium and mild are listed below.