If you have had an exhausting day at work and you are looking for a quick meal to make for your family for dinner, this is definitely not the dish for that day! 😉
But if you have some time to spend in the kitchen, let’s say on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and you want to treat your family that night or you want to impress your guests or the host of a party you have been invited to, this is the perfect dish for you! 😉
This pasta can be “dressed up” the way you want. I picked asparagus and pancetta, but you can go with the vegetables and the cured meats you like the most.
I also suggest that you use a couple of different cheeses instead of just one, because they make the sauce even richer – and this pasta is all about richness. 🙂 Just make sure that the cheeses you pick melt evenly and easily, such as emmental, fontina, gouda, cheddar or gruyere.
Let me know what you think if you have the chance and the time to make it! 🙂
2 lb asparagus
¼ cup extravirgin olive oil
¼ cup beef stock
1 lb of ¼ inch thick pancetta
7 cups of Bechamel sauce
2 cups each of two shredded cheeses of your choice (4 cups total)
1.6 lb dried ziti pasta (1 ½ packs)
1 cup grated Parmigiano cheese
Ground black pepper
Wash the asparagus spears and cut off the woody ends. In a large pot, heat some water until it boils, add the asparagus and keep boiling for 3-4 minutes. Strain the asparagus, rinse with cold water and cut into ¾ inch pieces. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat, add the asparagus, season with salt and pepper (to taste) and toss to coat. Add the beef stock and stir occasionally until the stock evaporates. Set aside.
Cut up the pancetta into small pieces and cook in a non-stick skillet until crispy. Wait for the pancetta to cool down and get rid of the grease. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally.
While the pasta is cooking, put the shredded cheeses into the pot with the hot Béchamel Sauce and, over very low heat, stir until the cheeses are completely melted.
Drain the pasta and put it again into the pot.
In a 9×13 inch casserole, spread some of the sauce to keep the pasta from sticking. Save 2 cups of the sauce for later and add the rest along with the asparagus and the pancetta to the pasta and toss to coat. Put the pasta in the casserole, ladle the rest of the sauce that you had previously set aside over the pasta, spreading it evenly, and scatter the grated Parmigiano over it. Bake for about 20 minutes covering the pasta with aluminum foil for the first 10 minutes.