What you need: measuring spoons/cups, Pyrex measuring jug, baking tray with wire cooking rack, large baking dish (about 3 ½ – 4 quart), large heavy bottomed pot, medium heavy bottomed pot, wooden spoon and whisk
Serves: 6 – 8
- 1 lb box mini penne pasta (I love Barilla)
- 2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
- 8 tbs plain flour
- 1 stick salted butter + 1 tbs butter
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 sixteen pack frozen peas
- 1 lb pack bacon
- 1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
- 2 tbs salt + 2 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 450˚F. Place strips of bacon on wire rack on top of baking sheet and cook until crisp (about 15 minutes). Set aside. Turn oven down to 375 ˚F. Fill the large pot with water, add 2 tbs of salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Bring to a boil and cook pasta for half the time suggested on the package. Drain and set aside. Butter the baking dish with the 1 tbs of butter – making sure to go all the way up the sides. Melt the stick of butter in a heavy bottom saucepan. Add in the flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until it becomes a paste and begins to brown. Slowly add in the milk and whisk until thickened. Add in 1 ½ cups of the cheese and stir until combined. Season with salt to taste. Cut the bacon into bite-size pieces and add to sauce. Add the peas. Pour sauce over pasta, stir to combine and place in the baking dish. Cover with the remaining ½ cup of cheese and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake at 375 ˚F for 45 minutes or until the pasta is warmed through and the cheese on top is browned and bubbly.
To Serve: Place the pasta in a large bowl or plate and serve with a simple salad and French bread.