Farmer’s Pasta
May 23, 2011, 2:11 am
Filed under: Food and Recipes, Main Dishes | Tags: , , ,

I have no idea why this recipe is called Farmer’s pasta. Maybe it’s because this pasta is the ultimate hearty baked pasta dish I know? All I really know is that this pasta dish is my favorite, so much so that it’s my go-to dish on my birthday.

It has everything I love about a good baked pasta dish: creamy pasta, cheesy sauce, a crisp breadcrumbs crust, bacon, and a flavor out of this world. Between all the good quality cheeses, garlic, and herbs, this pasta hits a homerun each time.

A little effort is needed to make this pasta. I will forewarn you. You will mess up a few pots, there are a couple steps needed to make it, and there is A LOT of cheese grating. You do have to babysit a couple things before getting it in the actual oven. Please, please, please don’t let this turn you away. It’s not hard, just takes some prep and a little time. You can do this. You should do this. You need to make this. Seriously.

Did I mention that this pasta was my favorite? I think I did. It’s lovely. Thanks to my sister-in-law for introducing me to the recipe. I don’t know what I did before I had it!

Farmer’s Pasta
Recipe courtesy of Giada de Laurentiis and

I will forewarn you, this dish makes a large, hearty dish. You can easily cut the recipe in half, which I do often. Except on my birthday, because I want it all! You can easily omit the bacon, too, if serving it as a side dish.

Sometimes I cannot find provolone in a block. Feel free to buy the sandwich slices and just cube them up with a knife. It works just the same as grating.

6 ounces pancetta, chopped
4 teaspoons minced garlic
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
7 cups milk (I used 2%)
8 ounces Fontina cheese, grated
4 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
6 ounces provolone cheese, grated
1 pound rigatoni pasta
3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups fresh coarse bread crumbs
Extra-virgin olive oil

1. Get everything prepped. Preheat your oven to 350. Grate all your cheeses, grind your bread for breadcrumbs, chop your herbs and garlic, set out your measured flour, get a large pot of salted water over high heat going for a boil, and pour out your measured milk into a vessel of your choice. Get another large pot set over medium high heat, drizzle in a bit of olive oil, and chop up your pancetta (non smoked Italian bacon, find it in the deli section of your grocery store).

2. In the pot with the olive oil, brown off your pancetta until crispy. Once browned, remove with a slotted spoon to a plate and reserve for later use. Add half your chopped garlic to the bacon drippings in the bottom of the pan. Sauté until fragrant. Add your flour to the pot. Stir continually until the flour is mixed with the bacon drippings and the roux turns a pale blonde color, takes a couple minutes.

3. Slowly whisk in the milk to the flour mixture. Be careful, it will bubble and sizzle as you add it. Once it’s all incorporated, decrease your heat to medium. Season generously with salt and pepper. Whisking frequently, bring to a low bubble, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon.

4. Once this happens, add all the grated cheeses to the milk mixture, and whisk until well combined. Mixture will be thick. Set aside to mix with pasta.

5. Meanwhile, add your pasta to your salted water when it comes to a rolling boil. Cook half the recommended time on the package (it will finish cooking in the oven), about 5-6 minutes.

6. After your pasta has cooked, drain, and add to the cheese mixture. With a large spoon, mix the two thoroughly. Add your reserved cooked pancetta and chopped herbs. Stir until combined. Pour into a 9×12 baking dish coated with cooking spray. Mixture will look slightly loose and it will fill the pan completely. It will thicken more in the oven.

7. Final step before baking: in a non-stick skillet: heat up a drizzle of olive oil. Add remaining half of the chopped garlic, sauté until fragrant, and add breadcrumbs. Toss, toasting them slightly. Season them with salt and pepper. Then sprinkle, coating the top of your pasta. Drizzle the whole thing with olive oil, to help browning.

8. Place your baking dish on a baking sheet to catch any bubble over, and bake for 20 minutes, or until browned, thickened, and delicious.


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