(modified from Dave Lieberman’s recipe on Food Network)
½ pound rigatoni
1 Tablespoon olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
1 large shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup white wine
2 cups milk
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
1 bag (5oz to 8oz) fresh spinach, rinsed, large stems removed, and julienned
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess water
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
8 ounces smoked or fresh mozzarella, grated.
Preheat the oven to 360 degrees F.
Cook pasta according to package in a pot of boiling, salted water. Do not overcook.
Drain and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Set aside.
To make the bechamel sauce:
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
Add the shallots and sweat for a few minutes until softened and but not colored.
Add the garlic for the final four minutes.
Add the flour and stir until a smooth paste forms.
Gradually whisk in the wine and then the milk.
Bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking constantly and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes.
Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper to taste.
Let cool slightly.
In a large mixing bowl combine the eggs and ricotta and mix thoroughly.
Whisk in the béchamel sauce.
Fold in the spinach.
Mix in rigatoni and transfer to a greased 9 by13-inch baking dish.
Top with grated mozzarella.
Bake for 15 minutes.
Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake for another 15 minutes.
Remove foil and bake an additional 20 minutes, or until cheese is lightly browned on top, the center is no longer runny, and the sides are bubbly.