There’s not much of a better way to describe this dish that a sophisticated version of mac n cheese. Don’t get me wrong…I LOVED how this turned out but I think I expected something a little different from Giada than what the outcome was.

In Giada’s Everyday Italian cookbook, she highlights a Bechamel sauce and then uses it in her Baked Rigatoni recipe. I guess I didn’t realize what the sauce really was because for some reason because before reading the recipe for the sauce, I had been intimidated to make it – it sounded too fancy. However, Giada’s recipe for Bechamel is practically the same sauce I use for my homemade mac n cheese recipe (I don’t add nutmeg to my sauce though). It’s the prosciutto that makes this a fancy mac n cheese, in my opinion. So really, the sauce was very easy – and it can be made and refrigerated for up to 3 days before using it (even better!). I halved the sauce recipe and made about 3/4 lb pasta for the two of us (main course) and for leftovers.

Is Stove Top Mac and Cheese More Your Thing?

Then you must try my homemade Panera Bread mac and cheese recipe! It’s amazing!!


Baked Rigatoni

source: Giada De Laurentiis, Everyday Italian


  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups whole milk, warmed (I used skim and it turned out perfect)
  • Pinch fresh nutmeg
  • Sea salt and white pepper
  • 1 cup grated fontina
  • 1/2 pound thinly sliced prosciutto, julienned
  • 1 pound dry rigatoni
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I added some on top before baking but the original recipe doesn’t call for it)


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Bechamel sauce: In a 2 quart saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes. Always stirring, gradually add the milk and constantly whisk until the sauce is smooth and creamy. Simmer until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon – do not let the sauce boil. This will take approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in nutmeg, 1/2 cup fontina, prosciutto and season with salt and white pepper. Set aside.
  3. In a large pot, bring to a boil 6 quarts of salted water. Add the rigatoni and cook 8 minutes. Since you will be cooking the pasta a second time in the oven, you want to make sure the inside is still hard. Drain in a colander. Return pasta to the pot and pour in bechamel sauce. Using a wooden spoon, mix well until all the pasta is coated with the sauce.
  4. Into a greased 13 by 9-inch baking dish, pour the pasta with cream sauce. Smooth out top and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup fontina. Dot the top with diced butter and bake in oven for 25 minutes or until bubbling and the top is golden brown.
Prep time: 20 minutes (including cook time of Bechamel sauce)
Cook time: 25 minutes
Serves: 6 side dish servings

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Leave a Comment

  • ashley
    August 20, 2007 at 3:00 PM

    this looks soo good! ever since your post showed up in my google feed, i’ve been craving mac & cheese. i need to find an excuse to make some 🙂 looks fabulous!

  • Amber
    August 20, 2007 at 11:51 PM

    This looks amazing! I am craving mac and cheese so bad.

  • September 11, 2008 at 8:37 AM

    […] haven’t tried many other homemade mac and cheese recipes other than my old (and favorite) standby but I’m always […]