This recipe for leeks, rosemary and cheese pasta bake uses simple ingredients and creates a taste sensation on your first bite. It is made with whole wheat einkorn pasta and three kinds of cheese, a good measure of fresh leeks and chopped rosemary, it has flavor, flavor, flavor!
We used Jovial einkorn whole wheat pasta in this casserole, the pasta is available in some grocery stores in the section with the rice and dry pastas as well as most health food stores and online at Amazon.
Whole wheat pastas have a different texture than pastas made with modern-day white or semolina flour. I would describe them to be firmer in texture, with an earthy flavor that is delicious and satisfying.
I love the luxurious creaminess of the cheese sauce, the lovely chopped leeks, the subtle notes of the wine and fresh rosemary. The flavors all compliment each other and balance deliciously with the taste and texture of the whole wheat pasta.
The cheese sauce is made with evaporated milk instead of heavy cream. It has the consistency of cream without the added fat and works really well in this recipe. But it tastes like it is loaded with heavy cream! Grated white cheddar cheese, grated Parmesan cheese and creamy mascarpone cheese is blended with the milk creating a smooth, creamy sauce.
The chopped fresh rosemary is stirred in at the finish. A bread crumb mixture of parmesan and smokey paprika is sprinkled over the top and the casserole is baked until it is golden brown and bubbly. This is such a delicious, creamy leek and cheese pasta bake.
This casserole is easy to make, just add a nice salad and it is a meal!
Check out our spelt pasta stuffed with mushrooms, pine nuts and goat cheese, or a more traditional macaroni and cheese.
This recipe has been adapted from Simply Ancient Grains by Maria Speck
- 12 ounces Jovial Whole Wheat Penne Rigate
- 2 leeks,rinsed, cut in half lengthwise and chopped 1/2 -inches
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
For the Sauce:
- 2 1/2 cups evaporated milk
- 5 ounces white cheddar cheese, grated
- 5 ounces parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 tablespoons einkorn flour
- 4 ounces mascarpone cheese
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, optional (taste first as the Parmesan is salty)
- 1/4 teaspoon finely grated black pepper
- 1/2 cup whole-wheat bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon smokey paprika
- Rosemary Sprigs for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 375°F and butter or coat with cooking spray, a 2.5 quart oven-proof casserole dish.
For the Pasta:
- Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions, only until the pasta is almost tender 8-10 minutes. The pasta will continue to cook in the oven while absorbing sauce. Drain the pasta, cover the saucepan and reserve.
For the Sauce:
- Add the leeks and wine to a large skillet set over medium-high heat, cover with a lid and wilt the leeks for 2 or 3 minutes allowing the alcohol in the wine to burn off and the leeks are just softened but still have a bright color. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and reserve while preparing the sauce.
- Using the same skillet set over medium-high heat, add the evaporated milk and bring just to a boil then reduce the heat to low.
- In a separate mixing bowl, add the grated cheddar, Parmesan cheese and the flour. Toss to fully combine. Add this cheese-flour mixture to the hot milk and cook over low heat, whisking to blend. In a small dish, add the mascarpone and one-half cup of the cheese sauce and blend to a smooth consistency. If needed, add additional sauce until the mascarpone is smooth, then whisk the mixture into the cheese sauce. Stir in the rosemary, salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.
- Combine the pasta, leeks and the cheese sauce in a large bowl, gently mix until well combined. Transfer the mixture to the prepared casserole dish.
- In a small dish, combine the bread crumbs, 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese and the smokey paprika. Sprinkle the mixture over the top of the casserole.
- Transfer the casserole to the middle rack of the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until heated through and the sauce is bubbly at the edges. Remove from the oven serve immediately.