French Bread Crumble Penne w/ Pancetta & Spinach

March 19, 2008 at 4:55 pm 10 comments

I usually do my review at the end of the recipe but I have to you that this was so FREAKING yummy. Try it! You won’t be disappointed. Dare I say its even better than the current jknottie foodie favorite, Alfredo Bake? Oh I dare… Original recipe from fellow TWDer, Erin, but I made a couple changes most noticeably I added some mozzarella cheese b/c more cheese is never bad… am I right? ;)

(Recipe from Dinner&Dessert | photos from me!)


8 ounces French bread (I used 1 loaf)
Cooking spray
3/4 cup (3 ounces) chopped pancetta (I used bacon instead)
3/4 cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3-3/4 cups 2% reduced-fat milk, divided (I used fat free milk)
1/4 cup half-and-half
6 cups chopped fresh spinach
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1-1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
8 cups hot cooked penne (about 1 pound uncooked tube-shaped pasta)
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place bread in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure 4 cups; set aside.

Heat a large nonstick saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat with cooking spray. Add pancetta, onion, and garlic’ sauté 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Place flour in a small bowl; gradually add 3/4 cup milk, stirring until smooth. Add flour mixture, remaining 3 cups milk, and half-and-half to pan; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat, and simmer 2 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Add spinach; cook 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese, salt, and pepper, stirring until cheese melts.

Place pasta in a large bowl. Add sauce mixture to pasta; toss well. Combine breadcrumbs and butter; toss well. Spoon 1/2 pasta mixture into a 13×9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Add 1/2 bread crumbs and mozzarella. Add remaining pasta mixture and remaining bread crumbs for second layer. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese to finish.

Bake for 6-8 minutes or until crumbs are lightly browned.


Husband rating: A+
He really liked it but wants more bacon (protein) next time but he had 3 helpings so it couldn’t have been too bad right? haha

Wifey rating: A++
Obviously you already know what I think. SO.FREAKING.GOOD.


Entry filed under: bread, cheese, pasta, veggie.

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10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Erin  |  March 19, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    This looks great! I’m glad you liked it! It one of my new favorite dinners.

  • 2. CB  |  March 19, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    ERIN, it was so good. I wanna make it again tomorrow! Thanks for sharing!

  • 3. Michelle  |  March 20, 2008 at 3:54 am

    This looks REALLY good!

  • 4. CB  |  March 20, 2008 at 5:34 am

    MICHELLE, it was SO good. I dreamed about it last night. haha!

  • 5. katie102006  |  March 20, 2008 at 5:53 am

    I can see why you rated it soooo good. It looks absolutely divine!

  • 6. CB  |  March 20, 2008 at 5:55 am

    KATIE, I usually don’t gush forever like this on a meal but it was SOOOOOOOOO good! You have to try it!

  • 7. April  |  March 20, 2008 at 10:25 am

    Hmm…looks like something I would like, but not T. Boo! Better than alfredo bake?! Oh come on now…. LOL

  • 8. CB  |  March 20, 2008 at 10:29 am

    APRIL, trust me. better than alfredo bake. why wouldn’t T like it? spinach?

  • 9. Alanna  |  March 21, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    This is making my mouth water…

  • 10. CB  |  March 21, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    ALANNA, just in case I didn’t say it enough– its soooooo good. I am definitely making this again.


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