This is a very quick and easy recipe to prepare. It was an instant hit with my family and quickly became a much-requested family favourite. Serve it as a meatless meal or add some leftover chicken or beef to it.
Prepare the pasta according to package instructions.
While the pasta is cooking, I begin working on the Bechamel sauce. Melt the butter over low to medium heat.
Once completely melted, stir in the flour.
You're making a roux here so you want to stir this and heat it for about a minute to make it into smooth paste. I usually turn the heat up a little bit at this point to medium.
Whisk in the milk and continue heating and stirring until it thickens up and you have a smooth white sauce.
Stir in the nutmeg.
Drain the cooked pasta and toss it with your pasta sauce until well-coated.
Spray a baking dish with cooking spray. Trust me, you'll need this step to ensure that the casserole releases well from the pan. We sometimes use a small roasting pan when we're making a double batch!
Dump the prepared pasta into the pan.
Pour the white sauce over the pasta evenly.
Top with cheese.
Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 20-30 minutes. Note: Rachael used a 400 degree oven but I found this too hot and my casserole would dry out too quickly. Everything is cooked so basically you just want the casserole to heat through and the cheeses to melt and get a bit bubbly (similar to lasagna).
As with all pasta casseroles, you might want to let this rest for a few minutes before cutting and serving. We're sometimes too anxious and go ahead and serve it up right away. It still tastes good but it never cuts into nice squares for serving that way.
Rachael Ray used canned whole tomatoes (I recommend those from San Marzano) but these would flare up my tomato sensitivity so I switched to our favorite pasta sauce. Ours has some seasoning in it already so you might find that if you're using canned tomatoes, that you want to increase the seasoning amounts.