Yes, it’s as good as it looks! It honestly didn’t take all that long to prep. It was more difficult to wait for it to bake. We had salad appetizers. LOL
No shiitakes at the store, so I used portabello caps instead. Yes, it was a bit redundant with the baby bellas (aka cremini), but I didn’t mind! I honestly didn’t think there were enough mushrooms. I would have put more in had we had more bellas. More veggies can’t hurt, can it?
I like how the title is Mushroom Rigatoni Bake, but that’s not the pasta in the picture. It’s that pizella or whatever it is. *snort* We had rigatoni from last week’s noodle bake, so S thought this would be a good use of the rest of the rigatoni. Except now we have a part of a box in the pantry…again.
So, I’m reading the directions and I’m seriously wondering what the need for the Dutch oven is. I mean, if all you’re going to do is cook the white sauce in the Dutch oven and toss it all together in said pot before putting it in a casserole dish, then what’s the need for the additional LARGE pot to clean instead of a smaller pot and a bowl? Or, just cook the casserole in the Dutch oven? That’s what I did; cooked it in the Dutch oven. Worked well, except I didn’t spray the pot like I usually do casserole dishes and I’m sure it’s going to be a PITA to clean. It looks like the white sauce exploded all over the sides and some of the noodles are stuck to the bottom. LOL I think my first thought would have been good, just cook the sauce in a smaller pot, then toss in a bowl and pour into the casserole dish. We WILL be making this again and I WILL be using this method. I’m just not a huge fan of dragging out my Dutch oven (enamel coated cast iron) just to make a bechamel and toss ingredients together.
I don’t know about you, but whenever I make a bechamel, I always add just a sprinkle of freshly ground nutmeg. I think it just finishes off the sauce and adds that little depth of flavor that usually enhances almost all cheese flavors melted in the sauce. This is DEFINITELY the case! The sharp saltiness of the cheese blend I used (parmesan, romano, and asiago) was thoroughly enhanced by the sprinkling of nutmeg I put in the sauce.
I honestly think I could have eaten the whole pot. It’s delish!! I can’t wait for lunch tomorrow to have it again. The creamy, sharp sauce blends well with the woodsy mushrooms and thyme. The shallots add a nice flavor to enhance the sherry. OMG it was FANTASTIC! Like I said, this is on the “make again” list and probably soon!