Orecchiette & Arugula Casserole

A creamy Parmesan cheese sauce combined with orecchiette pasta and arugula make an elegant casserole. Mixing in pine nuts lends a nice crunch to the dish. This casserole combines orecchiette pasta, homemade basil pesto, arugula, pignoli, Fontina and Parmiggiano-Reggiano cheese, bound together in a creamy bechamel and baked to a golden crust.

2 servings


1 1/2 cups orecchiette pasta
1 bunch arugula, stems trimmed
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup grated Parmiggiano-Reggiano
1/2 cup grated Danish Fontina
2 tablespoons basil pesto
1/4 cup pine nuts/pignoli
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
pinch of nutmeg (optional)
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
sea salt and black pepper to taste


Bring a medium saucepan with salted water to boil. Cook the pasta according to the box’s directions to al dente. Drain, reserving the cooking water, and refill the pot with the water. Bring to a boil again, and drop in the washed and trimmed arugula to blanche for 30 seconds. Remove with tongs and place immediately into an ice water bath. Drain, and roughly chop the greens.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Drain the pot and cook the butter and flour over medium-low eat, stirring until bubbly and evenly dispersed. Add the milk and cream and keep stirring over medium heat until it begins to bubble and thicken. Add the Parmiggiano, pesto, spices, salt and pepper. Next add the drained pasta and arugula and the pine nuts. Taste for seasoning.

Divide mixture into two greased individual au gratin dishes or small, oven-proof bakeware. Top evenly with the grated Fontina. Bake at 375 for approximately 30-40 minutes (depending on how large your bakers are), or until top is lightly browned. Let cool before serving.


Not Eating Out in NY