Photo Credit: Elizabeth Newman
Think of this recipe as my Italian version of mac and cheese. This creamy Parmesan baked pasta starts off with a rich bechamel sauce, then a heavy helping of both freshly grated Provolone and Parmesan, making it perfectly decadent and cheesy. I like to use shell pasta because the curves hold on to more of the cheese and the sauce, and broccoli florets add a little bit of greens in an otherwise indulgent dish. My favorite part, however, is the parmesan and panko breadcrumb mixture- it creates that perfect golden brown crunch on top that I love so much!
This is a wonderful dish to make for entertaining, because it can be entirely assembled ahead of time. Once you fold in the pasta, just set it in the fridge covered for up to two days. When it’s time to serve it up, sprinkle it with the panko topping, and set it in the oven until it’s bubbly perfection! I recommend to take it out of the fridge about an hour before it’s time to heat it up – when it reaches room temperature, it will cook more evenly in the oven.
Giada's Creamy Baked Parmesan Pasta
For the Topping:
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Pasta:
- 1/4 cup 1/2 stick unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk at room temperature
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 cups grated mild provolone cheese
- 2 cups freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 pound medium shell pasta blanched for 4 minutes, drained and ¼ cup pasta water reserved
- 3 cups broccoli florets cut into ½ inch pieces
- This recipe originated on an episode of Giada Entertains. Episode: Weeknight Special.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- In a small bowl, mix together the panko, parmesan cheese and olive oil. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and set aside.
- Place a medium braiser over medium heat. Melt the butter and whisk in the flour until smooth. Slowly whisk in the milk and cream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Bring the milk mixture to a simmer stirring often. Whisk in the provolone and the parmesan until melted and smooth. Season with the salt. Fold in the blanched pasta, pasta water and the broccoli florets. Top with the breadcrumb mixture and bake in the top third of the oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.