While I’m sure most people in the good ole USA were eating wings, chips, dip and drinking beers, we went a different route. Being that my birthday was Friday (no I don’t feel any different being 30) we figured might as well do a little birthday/ Super Bowl party with the family. I was not in the mood for picky food, I wanted to make a nice simple Italian dinner and here’s what was on the menu… The Baked Ziti with a Pesto Béchamel that i’ll be sharing here, some sautéed broccoli rabe, meatballs & sausage in sauce and a salad.Yea, we went with the Italian Sunday Dinner theme.
This is a really delicious twist on the typical baked ziti. Béchamel is a white “mother” sauce because it is the base to numerous sauces. Its is simply a roux, which is just butter and flour, then you whisk in milk and it is then cooked until slightly thickened. In this recipe I use a base béchamel and add pesto and a mixture of cheeses to create this Baked Ziti with Pesto Béchamel! Yum!
Baked Ziti with Pesto Béchamel
2 lbs ziti or penne
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
1 shallot, small dice
6 cloves garlic, sliced
3 Tbsp flour
5 cups 1% milk (if you’re trying to lighten it up a bit as I did)
1 1/2 cups pesto
4 cups shredded mozzarella
1/3 cup grated pecorino romano, plus extra for the top
2 cups part skim ricotta (again, this is if you want to lighten a bit)
Oven at 375.
Cook the pasta to al dente, drain and set aside in a large bowl.
Into a large pot, over medium heat, add the olive oil and butter. Add the garlic and shallot and sauté until softened.
Whisk in the flour until smooth. Add in the milk slowly, continuously whisking to combine. Once all the milk is in and the sauce is smooth, allow to simmer until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the pesto and pecorino romano. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour the sauce over top the cooked pasta. Stir in the shredded mozzarella and ricotta.
Add the pasta to a large baking dish and sprinkle with a little more pecorino. Bake for approx 20-30 minutes until bubbly and browned on top.