This vegetarian Baked Mushroom Rigatoni with Kale Gremolata is a wholesome and comforting pasta bake, made with meaty-rich mushroom and cheese sauce, soft pasta, and crunchy kale gremolata topping that will have you coming back for more in no time!
❤️ Why I love this recipe
- This mushroom pasta bake recipe is easy to make with pasta tossed in a simple mushroom sauce and gremolata topping.
- This dish can be varied in many ways, often using leftovers in the fridge to make different pasta bake meals from the same base recipe!
- Baked mushroom rigatoni with kale gremolata can be served as a family meal with the kids or as a classy dinner when hosting guests. The crispy topping, soft pasta, and creamy mushroom sauce is appreciated by all ages.
Adding panko breadcrumbs and chopped almonds as a topping to this creamy pasta bake is a real game-changer!
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Note: The full list of this recipe ingredients with their amounts and options are listed in the recipe card below.
- rigatoni -- or choose a pasta you prefer
- olive oil
- assorted mushrooms -- the earthy base of the pasta bake
- unsalted butter
- fresh garlic
- all-purpose flour - for making the besciamella or white sauce
- whole milk - makes a richer besciamella sauce
- freshly grated Parmesan - for the white sauce
- Gruyere - enhances the richness and flavor of the sauce
- Tuscan or lacinato kale - for the gremolata
- Gruyere - mixed with the panko crumbs for a rich topping
- panko breadcrumbs
- smoked almonds - adds a delightful smokiness to the gremolata
- olive oil - helps the topping mix together
- lemon zest -- adds a fresh tang to the crusty top
Note: This is an overview of the instructions. The full instructions are in the recipe card below.
- Cook the pasta in salted water until al dente and drain. Reserve ½ cup of pasta water.
- Preheat the oven and saute the mushrooms in a Dutch oven, searing on both sides and seasoning. Set aside.
- Reduce heat and melt the butter. Add garlic and flour and stir. Whisk in milk and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and add Parmesan, Gruyere, and ½ teaspoon salt.
- Cool slightly and add half of the mushrooms.
- Puree with an immersion blender.
- Combine the pasta and sauce in a bowl and add the remaining mushrooms. Transfer the mixture to a prepared baking dish.
- Top with the gremolata (a mixture of kale, Gruyere, panko, smoked almonds, olive oil, and lemon zest).
- Bake for 40 minutes or until the top is golden and bubbling.
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You’ll need the following items to make this recipe successfully.
- a deep pasta pot for making the rigatoni
- sharp knife - cutting the mushrooms
- wooden mixing spoon
- Dutch oven
- saucepan - for making the besciamella
- liquid measuring cup
- dry measuring cup
These are the questions we are most frequently asked about making the rigatoni casserole with gremolata topping.
Yes. If you add uncooked pasta to the baking dish, it won’t cook all through by the end of the cooking time.
It’s possible to bake raw pasta, but then you must increase the baking time so the pasta is cooked all through. You may also need to cover the baking dish with foil for part of the baking so that the topping doesn’t burn.
Baking pasta in a casserole dish is often called ‘pasta bake’!
The pasta absorbs liquid from the sauce and other moist ingredients in a dish while it bakes. If your pasta bake is dry, then it’s an indication that there was too much pasta and not enough liquid.
- When using a blender to puree the mushrooms and creamy sauce, allow the mixture to cool slightly first (about 5 minutes) and fill the blender only halfway. Leave one corner open when placing the lid on. You can catch any splatters by covering the lid with a kitchen towel. Pulse until smooth.
- The reserved pasta water can be added to the bowl of pasta and sauce just before transferring it to the prepared baking dish to achieve the desired consistency, adding extra liquid to the dish without diluting any flavor.
- Pasta usually takes around 8 minutes to cook through, but I usually shave off a minute or 2 to achieve al dente pasta so that by the time the semi-cooked pasta has cooked further in the heated sauce mixture and baked, it’s not overcooked.
- Any other pasta can be used for this dish. I prefer short and tubular pasta variations since they are great for “catching” the sauce.
- Heavy cream can be used in place of the milk when making the sauce which will certainly add to the flavor, but you may need to thin it with reserved pasta water.
- If you crave a meaty pasta bake, incorporate some ground beef or chunks of sausage into the casserole.
- While this is a 2-cheese pasta bake recipe, you can make a 3-cheese version by adding another cheese favorite like grated Mozzarella cheese.
- You can use store-bought mushroom pasta sauce instead of making the sauce from scratch.
Store leftover baked mushroom rigatoni with kale gremolata in the refrigerator for 3-4 days in an airtight container or the casserole dish, covered tightly in plastic wrap.
This pasta bake can also be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat in the oven, covered with aluminum foil, so the topping doesn’t burn.
📗 Related Recipes
Love comforting pasta bakes? If so, then try these:
- Stuffed Rigatoni Bake - A simple and comforting baked pasta casserole with cheese-stuffed pasta tubes, marinara sauce, and a grated Parmesan topping!
- Vegetable Sausage Pasta Bake - Enjoy meaty-rich flavors, saucy pasta, healthy veggies, and melted cheese in this vegetable sausage pasta bake!
- Creamy Chicken Pasta Bake - Tender pasta is coated in a creamy sauce with juicy rotisserie chicken and bubbling melted cheese!
🍽 Serve with
Garlic bread and pasta bake are a match made in heaven, which is why I recommend pairing these together.
If you’d prefer something lighter, consider a leafy green salad as a side dish to go with your serving of baked mushroom pasta casserole.
📞 Chiacchierata (chat)
Do you ever find yourself craving a comforting meatless casserole? I know I do from time to time, although I still love the rich flavor of meat which is why this baked mushroom rigatoni with kale gremolata is such a great choice!
The seared mushrooms provide a rich meaty flavor and texture among the creamy sauce and tender pasta.
The gremolata topping adds an irresistible crunch to this soft pasta bake. It’s the kind of pasta bake I’m incredibly proud to present to family and guests for special occasions, as well as whipping it up for a midweek family dinner!
Another meatless baked pasta dish we love to serve our family is the Classic Ziti Al Forno recipe. You'll enjoy the convenience of preparing it ahead of time and popping it in the oven before the meal.
Next time try one of our favorite combination casserole recipe, Million Dollar Spaghetti Alfredo Bake. This is a hearty meal that is pure comfort.
Tutti a tavolo, è pronto!
What's new? Check out my All Our Way Store on Amazon. We'll be adding more items we love and use or wish we had to make cooking fun and easy.
📝 Recipe Card
Mushroom Rigatoni with Kale Gremolata is a rich and creamy and cheesy pasta bake with meaty-rich mushroom flavor, tender pasta, and a crunchy gremolata topping. Serve it with a side of garlic bread.
If you love this recipe please give it 5 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.
Mushroom Baked Rigatoni With Kale Gremolata
- 1 pound rigatoni
- Kosher salt for pasta water
- 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound assorted mushrooms stemmed, sliced into ⅓-inch pieces
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 cloves garlic smashed and peeled
- 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 cups whole milk
- 2½ cups Parmesan grated
- 2 cups Gruyere grated
- 2 cups Tuscan kale 3-4 leaves, chopped
- 1 cup Gruyere grated
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- ½ cup smoked almonds chopped
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest about 2 lemons
- Cook the rigatoni in a large pot of generously salted boiling water until al dente, about 3 minutes less than the package directions. Drain, reserving ½ cup of the cooking water.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees℉.
- Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven. Sear the mushrooms, undisturbed, for 3 minutes; stir, and season with 1 teaspoon salt. Sear on the reverse side an additional 2 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside.
- Lower the heat to medium and melt the butter in the Dutch oven. Add the garlic and flour, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and simmer gently until the sauce just thickens, 5 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and add the parmesan, Gruyere and ½ teaspoon salt. Let cool slightly, then add ½ of the seared mushrooms, and puree with an immersion blender. (See notes if using blender)
- In a large bowl, toss the pasta with the sauce and the remaining half of the mushrooms, adding about ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water or more if desired. Transfer to a buttered baking dish.
For the gremolata:
- In a medium bowl, combine the kale, Gruyere, panko, smoked almonds, olive oil and lemon zest.
- Scatter the gremolata over the pasta and bake until golden on top and bubbling, about 40 minutes.