I'm not going to beat around the bush or even pretend this is a healthy dish...because it's not. But it may be one of the best pasta dishes your mouth will ever taste. It is rich, creamy, and comforting to the max.
My mom found this recipe while watching Giada on Food Network and it has become a family favorite for several years. And it is quite possible my favorite pasta dish EVER! My mom changed the recipe a little bit and I changed it too (surprise, surprise) so you can check out the link above to look at the differences, if you'd like.
1 stick unsalted butter (4 ounces)
1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups fat free half & half, at room temperature
1/2 cup low fat milk, at room temperature
Pinch fresh nutmeg
Ground black pepper
1 cup grated Romano cheese
14 oz [fully cooked] sliced smoked sausage
1 pound dry whole wheat penne pasta
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes. Always stirring, gradually add the
milk/half&half and continue to whisk until the sauce is smooth and creamy.
Simmer until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. This will take
approximately 10 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and stir in nutmeg, 1/2 cup romano, sausage and season
with pepper. Set aside.
4. In a large pot, bring to a boil 6 quarts of salted water.
Add the pasta and cook for about 5 minutes.
Since you will be cooking the pasta a second time in the oven, you want to
make sure the inside is still hard. Drain in a colander.
5. Return pasta to the pot and pour in béchamel sauce.
Using a wooden spoon, mix well until all the pasta is coated with the sauce.
6. Into a greased 13 by 9-inch baking dish, pour the pasta with cream sauce.
Smooth out top and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup romano.
7. Bake in oven for 25 minutes or until bubbling and the top is golden brown.
8. Serve with garlic bread and salad [and enjoy, of course]!!!
P.S. For the garlic bread, I first melted some butter and mixed garlic powder into it. Next, I brushed it onto whole wheat bread. Finally, I sprinkled a little bit of mozzarella cheese on top and baked it...SO good!!!
*If you try out this recipe, please drop me a message & let me know what you think!*