One of my daughter's favorite dishes from Tellini's Pasta Market is their Italian Casserole. Tonight I attempted to duplicate the recipe. It's so close, I'd put my version up for a side by side taste test! How's that for confidence? :)
Let's make the marinara sauce topping first:
2 T. olive oil
1 medium yellow onion finely chopped
1 t. minced garlic
1 large can crushed tomatoes
2 T. dried Italian seasoning
1/2 t. sugar
1 T. red wine vinegar
A few grinds of black pepper
In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and let them cook for 4 - 5 minutes until softened. Add garlic and let cook for a minutes longer.
Add tomatoes, Italian seasoning and sugar and bring to a simmer. Cover and let cook for 30 - 45 minutes. During the last few minutes of cooking, add the red wine vinegar and black pepper. Taste and add a little salt if needed.
Now for the casserole:
16 oz. box rigatoni, cooked according to package directions and drained
2 T. butter
2 T. olive oil
2 T. flour
3 cups milk
3/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan
1 cup shredded Mozzarella
24 oz. ricotta
1/2 t. white pepper
1/2 t. salt
1 t. dried parsley flakes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9 x 13 casserole dish with non-stick spray.
In a large saucepan (at least 2 quarts), heat butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add flour, and stirring constantly, let flour cook until it is a light brown color. Slowly add in milk, stirring constantly, and allow mixture to thicken slightly.
Add the cheeses a little at a time, so they they all blend in and melt evenly.
Stir in pepper, salt and dried parsley flakes.
Remove from heat and stir into drained rigatoni noodles.
Pour casserole mixture into prepared baking dish and cover with foil. Cook for 25 minutes and remove foil. Sprinkle a little more Parmesan cheese on top and return to oven for 10 more minutes.
Allow to rest about 5 minutes before serving.
Even though this would be a delicious casserole as is.....once you spoon some of that marinara on top just before serving, you'll see what delicious really is!