For classic comfort food with a sophisticated twist, you’ll love this truffled mushroom white baked ziti! Tender pasta and buttery mushrooms are coated in a luxurious, creamy truffle cheese sauce with a generous layer of rich, custardy ricotta. Crisp panko breadcrumbs with plenty of melted Gruyere and fontina top this baked pasta casserole for the perfect finishing touch.
Looking to feed a few friends a cozy meal with a touch of elegance? This truffled mushroom white baked ziti is for you. The truffle, Gruyere and fontina make this mushroom pasta dish worthy of a fancy occasion, but the homey feel of baked ziti keeps it from being too formal and stuffy for a low-key evening with friends.
Plus, I love how easy this mushroom baked ziti makes entertaining. With one dish, you can feed a crowd and even take care of the prep ahead of time. Add a simple side salad and garlic bread and you have yourself one hearty meal that will leave everyone feeling satisfied, full and happy.
How to Make
Let’s start cooking. I like to begin by toasting my panko breadcrumbs in a skillet until they start to brown. Some people put panko breadcrumbs directly onto casseroles without toasting in a skillet first, but I find they turn out crisper and show off a prettier golden brown if you take just a few minutes to toast. Plus, you can take care of this step as you prep other ingredients, so it really doesn’t add time.
Now we cook our pasta. The pasta will finish cooking in the oven, so I recommend boiling it two minutes less than the package recommends. I like to take care of this step early in the process to give the pasta time to cool. Hot pasta absorbs more sauce, so we'll get a creamier dish if we give it time to sit. In fact, you can even cook the pasta ahead of time, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator and add it later in the process if you'd like.
For our mushrooms, we grab a skillet and melt plenty of butter and cook the mushrooms until they’re nice and caramelized. I like to first stir the mushrooms to ensure they’re well-coated in that delicious butter and then let them cook mostly undisturbed to caramelize.
Of course, it wouldn’t be baked ziti without a generous layer of ricotta. To make this component, we simply mix together ricotta, a slightly beaten egg and Parmesan. Make sure you only use freshly grated Parmesan. Canned Parmesan may seem like a shortcut, but it doesn’t melt and will leave us with a grainy texture. No one wants that.
And now for my favorite part: the truffle cheese sauce! The base of this sauce is a roux, so we start like any traditional roux and whisk together butter and flour. We give it a few minutes to cook off the flour flavor, and then we pour in a mixture of whole milk and heavy cream for a luxurious touch and add some Dijon mustard and a pinch of nutmeg.
If you’ve never cooked a cream sauce, nutmeg might sound like a funny ingredient but go with it. Nutmeg adds a wonderful savory flavor to cream-based sauces. I highly recommend using a whole nutmeg with a microplane grater. You can pick up whole nutmegs in the spice section of your grocery store, and the jar will last a long time.
From here, we bring our cream mixture to a simmer, turn off the heat and stir in our cheese. To complement the truffle, I like using a mix of Gruyere and fontina. Like the Parmesan, make sure you only use freshly grated cheese.
This shouldn’t be a problem for Gruyere and fontina. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen those come shredded in a bag, but this stands if you decide to make any substitutions. Shredded cheese in a bag is coated with a substance to prevent clumping that doesn’t melt as nicely as freshly grated cheese, and we want as much cheesy goodness as possible.
Once our cheese melts into the sauce, we stir in our truffle oil, salt and pepper to taste along with the pasta and mushrooms. I find truffle oil can vary in strength depending on the brand, so it’s best to let your taste buds guide you here.
Now we layer the creamy pasta with our ricotta mixture, top with cheese and panko breadcrumbs and bake until it’s perfectly bubbly. Sounds so delicious, right?
Best Pasta for Baked Ziti
Obviously, ziti is the classic choice; however, sometimes the store runs out of ziti. If you find yourself in that situation, don't worry. Despite the name, ziti is not your only pasta option.
If you can't get ziti, any tubed pasta should work nicely. I like to substitute penne or rigatoni. In fact, rigatoni is what you see pictured throughout this post. Some people even prefer rigatoni or penne in baked ziti because the deep ridges hold the sauce better than your traditional smooth ziti shape.
Can You Prepare White Baked Ziti Ahead of Time?
Absolutely! In addition to feeding a crowd, I love this mushroom baked ziti for entertaining because we can prepare it a day in advance and bake shortly before we're ready to serve. That means you get to spend more time sipping on wine and chatting with company instead of running around in the kitchen.
To prepare this mushroom baked pasta ahead of time, we make the recipe as you would on the stove, pour into our baking dish, sprinkle with our topping, cover tightly and refrigerate. We take the pasta out of the refrigerator an hour before baking to bring the pasta down in temperature as well as ensure our dish doesn't crack when it hits the hot oven. And that's it!
If you'd like a beer with this truffled mushroom white baked ziti, you'll enjoy a biere de garde. The herbal notes of the biere de garde meld nicely with the earthy truffle and mushrooms, and the moderate to high carbonation helps cut through our rich cheese sauce.
For wine, a pinot noir or Burgundy is a nice option. Just like the truffle and mushrooms, both wines show off an earthy quality, and the nutty Gruyere blends in beautifully. If you're in the mood for a white, a buttery chardonnay is another tasty pairing.
When you need one decadent, stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal that's perfect for a crowd, I hope you try this truffled mushroom white baked ziti.
Can't Get Enough Pasta?
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- Tex-Mex avocado pasta with chili-tequila roasted shrimp
- Chorizo and pumpkin baked ziti
- Grilled lobster fettuccine in lemon Alfredo sauce
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Truffled Mushroom White Baked Ziti
- Cheese grater
- 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish
- 7 tablespoons butter divided
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 pound dried ziti, rigatoni or penne
- 1 pound sliced baby bella mushrooms
- Salt and pepper
- 15 ounces whole milk ricotta
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan see note
- 1 egg slightly beaten
- 5 garlic cloves minced or grated
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk slightly warmed in microwave
- 1 cup heavy cream slightly warmed in microwave
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Pinch nutmeg preferably freshly grated
- 1 ½ cups shredded Gruyere divided
- 1 ½ cups shredded fontina divided
- Truffle oil plus more for drizzling if desired
- Fresh chopped parsley for garnish, optional
- Heat oven to 375 degrees. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Add panko breadcrumbs and toast until they brown. Stir every so often to prevent burning. Remove from skillet and set aside.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta two minutes less than package directions. Drain and set aside to cool. Hot pasta absorbs more sauce, so you'll get a creamier finished dish if the pasta has time to sit. You can also make the pasta ahead of time and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, stir to coat and season with salt and pepper. Cook until they brown mostly undistributed to caramelize, about five minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the skillet and set aside.
- As the mushrooms cook, stir together the ricotta, Parmesan and egg. Set aside.
- Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter to the skillet over medium heat. Once melted, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Whisk in the flour. Continue to whisk constantly for three to five minutes to cook out the flour flavor and create a smooth mixture.
- Slowly pour in the milk and heavy cream, whisking constantly to smooth out lumps. Add the Dijon mustard and nutmeg. Bring to a simmer while whisking frequently.
- Once it simmers and thickens, turn off heat and add in 1 cup of Gruyere and 1 cup of fontina and constantly stir until the cheese melts. Stir in truffle oil. Start with a tablespoon but add extra if you'd like a stronger truffle flavor. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the pasta and mushrooms.
- In a greased 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish, pour in half the pasta mixture. Spread the ricotta mixture on top. Add the remaining pasta mixture on top of the ricotta. Top with remaining Gruyere and fontina and sprinkle the panko breadcrumbs on the cheeses.
- Bake uncovered until bubbly, about 20 minutes and serve immediately for a creamier, saucier dish. If you'd like a less saucy pasta, allow to sit for about 10 minutes under foil. Drizzle with more truffle oil and fresh parsley on top if desired. Enjoy!
- Don't use the canned Parmesan. It won't melt, resulting in a grainy texture.
- I also recommend you freshly grate the other cheeses. Shredded cheese in a bag is covered with a substance to prevent clumping that doesn't allow it to melt as well.
- If you want to make the pasta ahead of time, follow through step eight, cover the baking dish with foil and store in the refrigerator for up to a day. Remove from the refrigerator an hour before serving. You might need slightly more baking time but still check after 20 minutes to avoid overbaking. It's ready when the edges start to bubble.
- For full tips, please see blog post.
- Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.