Bacon Bean Buttermilk Pasta

We don’t live on noodle casseroles, we just have a huge stockpile of pasta, and I’m trying to use it up.  So along with the other odds and ends of things we had around I came up with this pasta dish for tonight’s dinner.  The quantities and variety of vegetables could be adjusted to include whatever you have on hand that will fit in the casserole dish with the other ingredients.

Bacon Bean Buttermilk Pasta

8 oz. (1/2 a 16 oz. box) of pasta (I used Penne)
2 cups reserved starchy water from boiling the pasta
1 cup buttermilk
8 slices bacon
6 cloves garlic minced
3 diced mushrooms (more would be good but that’s what I had)
1 onion chopped
3 stalks celery chopped
1 small zuchini, diced
1 tomato, diced
1/2 cup chopped arugula
1 1/2 cups beans, or one can, drained
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon dry thyme
1 teaspoon dry oregano
pepper to taste
3/4 cup cheese (I use pecorino because its cheaper than parmesan, but your choice!)
Sprinkle of bread crumbs

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until just al dente – it will cook more when it is baked in the casserole. Drain, reserving 2 cups starchy water from the pot.  Dump the noodles into a greased casserole dish.

Meanwhile fry bacon in a pan til done, remove bacon and drain.  Fry mushrooms, garlic, onions, and celery in the same pan, you can remove some of the fat first if it seems too much.  Fry the vegetables until tender and brown, then sprinkle flour and herbs into the pan and cook for a few minutes.

Pour starchy water into pan and let cook til thickened.  Whisk in buttermilk and cook until a thick consistency, like a nice cheese or white sauce.  Taste and adjust seasoning adding salt, pepper or more herbs.

Mix 1/2 cup cheese into pasta in the casserole dish.  Mix in beans, zuchini, tomato and crumbled bacon in as well.  Pour sauce over top, then sprinkle on cheese and breadcrumbs.

Bake at 375’F for 35 to 40 minutes, or until warmed through and brown and bubbly on top.

Casserole, cooked and ready to eat!

Result:  This was really good, a great way to use up odds and ends in the fridge, especially the leftover butermilk from some biscuits I made last week.  I would make it again, and use thinned greek yogurt or milk if I didn’t have buttermilk on hand.

Plating is not my strong suit obviously, but it tasted good!
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