Baked Shells with Three Cheeses and Zucchini
Who doesn’t love a good baked pasta with cheese? I know I do! I try not to indulge in this rich comfort too much, and like to convince myself I’ve made it a health food by adding a vegetable. 🙂 You can omit the zucchini or substitute broccoli.
- 6 ounces dried pasta shells (or other short pasta)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup half and half or cream
- Grated Nutmeg, to taste
- Salt and pepper
- 3 ounces Velveeta, cut into small chunks
- 3 ounces grated Manchego cheese
- 3 ounces herbed Boursin cheese
- 1 zucchini, grated or diced small, squeezed dry of excess moisture
- ½ cup crushed garlic croutons (or plain breadcrumbs)
- Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil, then add the pasta. Cook for 2 minutes less than the package cooking directions. Drain, reserving a cup of the pasta cooking water.
- Heat the butter and flour in a saucepan over medium high heat and whisk together for a couple of minutes. Slowly add the half and half or cream, whisking continuously. When thickened, season with grated nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
- Add the cheeses, and continue whisking until the cheese is fully melted and incorporated. Toss the cooked pasta with the cheese sauce, adding pasta cooking water to thin the cheese sauce a bit (you want it to look a little runny as the pasta will absorb more liquid while baking).
- Pour the shells into a casserole dish and top with the crushed croutons. Bake at 375 degrees until bubbly, about 30-45 minutes. (Note: if you refrigerate the casserole to bake later you'll need a little longer cooking time.)