Broccoli, Mushroom, Spinach and Cheese Pasta is a sophisticated and healthier vegetarian version of mac ‘n cheese, using Fontina and Parmesan instead of Cheddar cheese.
This Broccoli, Mushroom, Spinach and Cheese Past is super versatile, combining broccoli, sliced mushrooms, shallots, spinach and my favorite ingredients: Parmesan and Fontina cheeses, all deliciously baked with whole wheat ziti pasta. A mixture of more Parmesan and bread crumbs on top adds a bit of crunch. As indicated in the variation below, you can use lots of different vegetables and cheeses, to suit your taste. Even I switch it up from time to time for variety!
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Broccoli, Mushroom, Spinach and Cheese Pasta is a sophisticated and healthier vegetarian version of macaroni and cheese, using Fontina and Parmesan instead of Cheddar cheese. It’s easy to prepare ahead of time, too!
- 1 (12-ounce) package whole wheat ziti pasta
- 3/4 pound fresh broccoli florets
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
- 8 ounces sliced mushrooms (button, cremini, shiitake or a mix)
- 2 shallots, peeled and chopped
- 3 cups fat free milk
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- Salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 5 ounces package baby spinach
- 1 cup (4 ounces) grated Fontina cheese
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces) freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees (see Note below). Butter a shallow 3-quart baking dish.
- In a large stockpot, cook the ziti pasta according to package directions until almost tender but still al dente (see my pasta cooking tips).
- While the pastas cooks, place broccoli in a steamer basket over boiling water. Cover and steam until crisp-tender.
- Drain pasta, return to pot and add the broccoli. Set aside.
- In a large skillet or sauté pan, melt 2 teaspoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and shallots and cook 5 minutes or until tender.
- In a medium mixing bowl, pour in the milk. Sift the flour over the top of the milk, and whisk until well blended. Season with salt and pepper.
- Stir the flour mixture into the mushroom mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring, 5 minutes or until thickened. Stir in spinach. Remove from heat and stir in Fontina and 1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese. Add mushroom sauce to pasta mixture and toss until well blended.
- Place in prepared baking dish.
- In a small skillet or saucepan, melt remaining 1 teaspoon of butter. Stir in breadcrumbs and remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese; sprinkle over top of pasta mixture.
- Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until bubbly and the top begins to brown.
Note on cooking temperature: casserole can also be baked at 375 for 20 to 25 minutes.
Make ahead: Casserole can be prepared but not baked up to three days ahead, covered and refrigerated. Cover with foil to bake and increase cooking time to 30 minutes, then uncover dish and cook for an additional 10 minutes or until beginning to brown.