Mushroom Baked Pasta

The rich and creamy bechamel adds a special touch to this baked pasta dish. The leeks adds a sweet flavor and the mushrooms add an umami touch. This filling dish makes you forget about meat as a main dish. Use any kind of pasta on hand, but shaped pasta tends to hold pockets of the bechamel best.

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2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 cup leeks, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
2 1/2 cups shaped pasta
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Ingredients – Bechamel Sauce
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup flour
5 cups 2% milk
Pinch nutmeg
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare the bechamel by melting the butter. Once the butter is melted, remove it from the heat and mix in the flour to make a roux (will form a clumpy, glue like mixture). Slowly add the milk a little at a time and stir into the roux. (By adding it a little at time, you avoid clumps.) Continue until the roux becomes liquid (approximately 2 cups). Stir in the remaining milk and the nutmeg. Return to a low heat and continuously stir until the sauce thickens. Once thick, add the Parmesan cheese and stir in until melted. Remove from heat. Beat the eggs and slowly pour in some of the sauce to temper them. Once the eggs have warmed up, whisk into the sauce.

Melt the butter and the olive oil in a pan. Add the sliced leeks and mushrooms and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until caramelized. In the meantime, boil the pasta in salted water according to the package directions. Drain and toss with the mushrooms and leeks.

Add two thirds of the prepared bechamel sauce and toss with the pasta and vegetables. Place in a bake dish and cover with the remaining bechamel. Sprinkle the grated cheese over the pasta and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.

Serves 4 to 6.

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