Recipe summary

Hands-on time:
15 mins. to 25 mins.
Baking time:
35 mins. to 45 mins.
Total time:
1 hrs 5 mins. to 1 hrs 25 mins.
Yield:
12 to 20 servings
This down-home casserole is perfect for potlucks or big family gatherings; it fills quite a large pot with a warm, bubbling casserole of pasta, onions, a tomato-y white sauce, and cheese. Even better: the pasta cooks as the casserole bakes, so there's no need to boil up a pound of pasta before you start.
Volume Ounces Grams

  • 4 cups chopped onion, about 3 medium-large onions
  • 3 (or more) garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, optional
  • 3 cups pasta sauce
  • 3 tablespoons sugar, optional
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil*
  • 1 pound pasta, uncooked; about 6 cups uncooked pasta: shells, ziti, rotelli, elbows, etc.
  • 3 cups, packed, shredded cheese; a mixture of Parmesan and mozzarella is tasty
  • pizza seasoning, optional
  • *You can omit the basil if you're using bottled pasta sauce.

Directions

  1. 1) Sauté the chopped onions and garlic in the oil until they're soft and golden.
  2. 2) Add the flour to the onions, stirring to combine.
  3. 3) Gradually add the milk, stirring until smooth and thickened.
  4. 4) Add the mustard, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
  5. 5) Add the pasta sauce, sugar (if desired), and basil. Stir to combine, and remove from the heat.
  6. 6) Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a large (about 4-quart), deep casserole dish.
  7. 7) Pour about 1 1/2 cups (about one quarter) of the pasta sauce into the bottom of the prepared dish. Add 2 cups (one third) of the uncooked pasta, then about 1 cup (one third) of the cheese. Repeat the layers; then add a final layer of sauce, pasta, sauce, and cheese. Sprinkle with Pizza Seasoning, if desired.
  8. 8) Bake the casserole for 35 to 45 minutes, until it's bubbling and beginning to brown on top. Remove it from the oven, and let it rest for 15 to 30 minutes before serving.
  9. Yield: 12 to 20 servings, depending on size.

Tips from our bakers

  • Since the dry pasta cooks in the casserole as it bakes, choose a pasta that doesn't have an ultra-long cooking time, to avoid too-hard noodles; 7 to 10 minutes is ideal.
  • To make this in a Zojirushi CEC20 or X20 bread machine, simply remove the paddles from the bucket; layer the ingredients in the bucket; and use the homemade menu to program for "bake only," 70 minutes. The keep-warm option is — well, optional, if you want to keep the casserole warm for awhile.