Wednesday, August 12, 2009

New England Pasta Bake

From: Rachael Ray

Normally I'm not one a Rachael Ray person. Some of her recipes are good, but she's not quite my style. She does healthier stuff, I do things covered in cheese. Paula Deen's more my style I think. :) But this recipe caught my eye when I was watching her talk show a while back. I love Clam Chowder, and the thought of a chowder made into a pasta bake was intriguing. I didn't know if it would still have all my favorite aspects of the chowder (mainly the creaminess) so I had to try it.

It included most of the ingredients needed to make a chowder, plus a few extra:
  • potatoes
  • onions
  • carrots
  • celery
  • salt/pepper
  • bread crumbs (I ground up flavored croutons)
  • diced or minced clams
  • cheese
  • olive oil (or evoo, since this is a Rachael Ray recipe)
Start by dicing up all your veggies. The onions are there hiding under the celery, I promise. Place everything but the potato into the pot with some melted butter, or oil, add your seasonings and saute them until they just start getting soft. Don't caramelize them!

Add your potatoes next. Along with all the clam juice and some water. Bring it all to a small bubble and let it simmer and cook the potatoes.

meanwhile, in ANOTHER pot, cook your pasta to the al dente stage.

When the pasta is done, save about a cup of the pasta water, drain the rest and add the pasta to your veggies. Mix them up good and set them aside.

Grab that pot you cooked your pasta in--we're making a roux!

When I was uploading this picture I thought to myself, "I wonder how many picture I have of me whisking a white sauce. . . .probably a LOT"

Make your roux by melting some butter and whisking in some flour. Add your pasta water and some milk. Bring it to a bubble and let it thicken up. Then add your clams.

Pour your roux mixture into the pasta and veggies and mix it up good.

Then pour it into a casserole dish. yes, it filled this dish FULL.

Sprinkle your cheese over the top, then sprinkle the bread crumbs. I did it backwards. I was trying to keep it dairy free (which is why I used olive oil instead of butter to saute the veggies, and soy milk to make the roux) but instead just took a bowl full out for K-girl.

If you do the cheese first, I bet it will melt down into the pasta, and then the bread crumbs will get crunchy. Feel free to mix them up with a little bit of melted butter or oil.

Cook it for about 20 minutes, just until the top gets brown. Or you can turn the broiler on a cook it for a few minutes. Everything is already cooked anyway!

and enjoy! My nephew took one look at it and said "No WAY am I eating that" so he got a hot dog for dinner. :)

From: Rachael Ray
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into medium dice
  • 1 stalk celery, cut into medium dice
  • 2 carrots, cut into medium dice
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into medium dice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons, about 6 sprigs, fresh thyme leaves, minced (1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 3 6.5-ounce cans chopped clams and their juice, divided
  • 1 pound of pasta shells
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Preheat broiler. Place a large pot of salted water over high heat to boil.

Place a large skillet over medium heat with 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the onion, celery and carrots, season with salt and pepper, and cook until tender but not caramelized, 5-6 minutes. Add the potatoes, thyme, juice of the clams and 1/2 cup of water to the skillet and bring the liquids up to a bubble. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the potatoes are tender, 8-10 minutes.

While the veggies are simmering, drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook to al dente according to package directions. Just before the pasta is ready, reserve a large mug of starchy cooking water. Drain the pasta and return it to the pan it was cooked in.

While the veggies and pasta are cooking, place a medium saucepot over medium heat with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Sprinkle the flour over the melted butter and cook for 1 minute. Whisk the milk and 1 cup of starchy cooking water into the roux and bring up to a bubble. Add the clams to the sauce, season with salt and pepper, and simmer until thickened, about 1 minute. Reserve warm.

When everything is ready, toss the cooked veggies and prepared sauce with the cooked pasta and transfer to a large casserole dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and grated cheese over the surface of the casserole and brown under the broiler.


  1. This sounds fabulous! Have you ever used it as a freezer meal?

  2. Sounds yummy, so different. Did you like it?

  3. Blogger was being difficult earlier and wouldn't let me comment. ugh. I have never really been a huge clam chowder girl, but my mil makes clam chowder that I really enjoy. So, maybe I will give this a chance. The pictures make it look delicious. And maybe if I turn wimpy, I'll try it anyway but use chicken instead of clams. I know, not the same, but oh, well!

  4. Amy--I haven't frozen it. . .I'm not sure how it would do, since potatoes don't freeze well though. But perhaps I'll just have to give it a try to find out!

    Donna--I did really like it! I wish it would have been a little saucier though

    Rebecca--I bet chicken would be awesome in this!

  5. Krystal, It's Laura from Real Mom Kitchen. Are you a member of the Utah Hive? I think that is how I got invited to that event.

  6. Krystal,
    I wondered, do you think this would work out well if you took some canned clam chowder, added some pasta and a few more potatoes, and then topped it with the cheese and bread crumbs? Or do you think it would be just way too "wrong" for it to work out right?


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