Recipe Review: Paccheri and Cheese with Peas and Mint

This is another updated comfort food recipe from Bon Appetit March 2012. This time the classic Mac and Cheese is updated with a parmesan-fontina bechamel sauce, arugula, peas, and mint.  Bechamel, or white sauce, is one of the French mother sauces.  First, a roux is made by cooking butter and flour.  Then, milk is added and the mixture is stirred until thickened, about 20-30 minutes.  Parmesan cheese, fontina cheese, and egg are added to the bechamel sauce, which is then tossed with cooked pasta, arugula, parsley, peas, and mint.  A layer of ricotta and lemon zest is added, and everything is baked for about 45 minutes.  I made a couple of modifications, using rigatoni instead of the larger paccheri, baking in a large casserole dish instead of a springform pan, and adding some ham slices.  The total time from start to finish was about two hours.  I thought the dish turned out OK.  I liked the texture of the browned pasta at the top.  However, in terms of flavor the mild cheese sauce dominated, and none of the other flavors really popped.

Link to recipe here.

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