This is one of those dishes I make with whatever I have around. Sometimes it's leftover cooked vegetables, sometimes it's thawed frozen vegetables and sometimes it's fresh vegetables I've grabbed at the store--or a combination of all three. Whatever I go with, I start with about six cups of cooked vegetables. I like to keep this dish vegetarian for a little freshness to counter the insane richness of the sauce. But if you wanna throw some pancetta in there, I wouldn't tell you not to...
Recipe courtesy of Laura Vitale
Show: Simply Laura
Total:
2 hr
Active:
55 min
Yield:
8 to 10 servings
Level:
Intermediate
Total:
2 hr
Active:
55 min
Yield:
8 to 10 servings
Level:
Intermediate

Ingredients

Bechamel:
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 4 cups whole milk 
  • Freshly grated nutmeg (about 1/8 teaspoon) 
  • Salt and ground white pepper
  • Salt and ground white pepper 
Veggie Mixture (or substitute 6 cups cooked vegetables):
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced 
  • 1 yellow onion, diced 
  • 4 cups sliced mushrooms 
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped 
  • Salt and ground white pepper 
  • Salt and ground white pepper
  • 2 big handfuls fresh baby spinach, washed and dried 
  • 1 pound penne pasta 
  • 2 cups grated fontina 
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano 

Directions

Watch how to make this recipe.

For the bechamel: In a large saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and let it melt. Add the flour and stir until it is incorporated in the butter. Cook, whisking constantly, until there are no lumps, about 2 minutes. Add the milk, whisking often, and cook the mixture until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 5 to 6 minutes. Season with the nutmeg, salt and white pepper to taste and set aside.

For the veggie mixture: In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and allow it to get nice and hot. Add the pepper, zucchini and onion and cook until they have softened and developed some color, 4 to 5 minutes; remove to a plate.

Add a touch more oil (if needed) and allow it to get hot, and then add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they have cooked down, 4 or 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic along with the partially-cooked pepper, zucchini and onion. Season with salt and white pepper to taste and cook 5 minutes. Stir in the spinach and set the mixture aside.

To assemble and bake: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Ladle about one-third of the bechamel in a 13-by-9-inch casserole dish and set aside.

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water for about 7 minutes (about 2 minutes less than the package instructions suggest). Drain well and return to the hot pot.

Add the cooked veggies to the pasta, along with the remaining bechamel and 1 cup of the fontina and 1/4 cup of the Parmigiano. Transfer to your prepared pan, cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes.

Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F, remove the foil and sprinkle the top with the remaining cup of fontina and 1/4 cup of Parmigiano. Place it back in the oven and bake until the top is golden brown and bubbly, an additional 15 to 20 minutes.

Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

Cook's Note

Like my Nonna (grandmother), I prefer to bake this dish in a metal pan so the edges get super crispy. Sometimes I even use a cake pan or a small roasting pan, but a 13-by-9-inch baking dish will work as well: It will just get crispy on the top and not on the sides.

Trending Videos 7 Videos

Get the Recipe

Gabriele's Limoncello 01:28

Gabriele shares his family recipe for a delicious summertime libation.

Similar Topics:

IDEAS YOU'LL LOVE

Pasta Al Forno: Oven Baked Pasta

Recipe courtesy of David Rocco

Nopales Cactus Tacos

Recipe courtesy of Tarbell's

Veggie Mac and Cheese

Recipe courtesy of Laura Vitale

Veggie Pasta Salad and Pint-Sized Pasta Salad

Recipe courtesy of Kelsey Nixon

Emeril's Wedgie Salad

Recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse

Pizza

Recipe courtesy of Joseph Simmons

Pizzetta with Roasted Garlic Bulbs and Cambozola

Recipe courtesy of Michael Chiarello

White Truffle Mac and Cheese

Pizza Vegetariana

Recipe courtesy of Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos

On TV

Unwrapped 2.0

7:30am | 6:30c

Unwrapped 2.0

8:30am | 7:30c

Unwrapped 2.0

9:30am | 8:30c

Man Fire Food

10am | 9c

Man Fire Food

10:30am | 9:30c

Man Fire Food

11am | 10c

Man Fire Food

11:30am | 10:30c

Food: Fact or Fiction?

1:30pm | 12:30c

Good Eats

3pm | 2c

Good Eats

3:30pm | 2:30c

Good Eats

4pm | 3c

Good Eats

4:30pm | 3:30c

Good Eats: Reloaded

5:30pm | 4:30c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Iron Chef America

8pm | 7c

Iron Chef

10pm | 9c

Iron Chef

11pm | 10c

Iron Chef

2am | 1c

Iron Chef

3am | 2c

So Much Pretty Food Here