Baked Pasta with Fontina and Roasted Mushrooms

baked fontina pasta

Some new friends were coming over the other night and I asked them what they ate and they said “we eat meat but mostly vegetables” and that’s when I knew I was going to serve them a pound of cheese. It’s not that I was trying to fatten them up or punish them for being so wholesome, it’s just that I count cheese as a vegetable. But on the off chance they were looking for real vegetables in their dinner, I decided to find a recipe that had cheese AND a vegetable and landed on Melissa Clark’s recipe for baked pasta with ricotta, fontina, and roasted mushrooms.

It’s kind of a genius thing, this recipe? Especially the first step. Are you ready to have your mind blown? You roast the mushrooms in the oven.

Now maybe you knew that you could roast mushrooms in the oven, but I definitely didn’t. Or if I did, I didn’t believe it would accomplish much. After all, my favorite thing to do with mushrooms is to add them to a hot pan with lots of olive oil and butter and to cook all the liquid out of them until they’re deeply bronzed and take in all of the garlic and wine that I add later.

But on a cookie sheet in a 450 oven, you can use way less oil and add some rosemary for a subtle perfume, and they come out just as golden with none of the mess.

These were shiitakes, but Melissa says you can do this with any mushroom and suggests lion’s mane, maitake, or oysters. Shiitakes was as exotic as the mushroom section of Gelson’s gets.

As for the rest of the recipe, you simply boil your pasta in salted water and stir it into a mixture of heavy cream, ricotta, fontina, Parmesan, sage and garlic.

Because I wanted to use the full box of pasta (the recipe only calls for 1/2 a pound), I changed the proportions a bit. So I almost doubled all the cheeses: instead of 5 ounces fontina, I used 8 (because that’s what I had, but 10 would be ideal), instead of 1/2 a cup fresh ricotta (I used Bellwether Farms), I used a whole cup, etc. I also used way more Parmesan cheese than half a cup, because I like to buy it pre-grated at the store (the freshly pre-grated not the canned pre-grated) for recipes liike this so I can add it liberally, especially to the top where it gets all caramelized.

I served this with David Chang’s Brussels sprouts with fish sauce, not an obvious pairing, but Craig requested it and it somehow worked to have another vegetable on the table besides the cheese and mushrooms.

Our guests, Roshan and Karan, were pleased as punch and doubling the recipe had the added advantage of making the casserole look more full and plentiful. To think that their request for vegetables would yield such a hearty vegetable-focused dinner! And we’re not even counting the rosemary leaves, which is a salad unto itself.

baked fontina pasta

Baked Pasta with Fontina and Roasted Mushrooms

My adaptation of Melissa Clark's recipe with everything doubled for more oomph.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword casserole, fontina, mushrooms, parmesan, pasta
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 6 people


  • 2 pounds mushrooms (any kind, the more interesting the better)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 to 3 fresh rosemary branches
  • 1 pound Orecchiette
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup fresh ricotta
  • 10 ounces freshly grated Fontina
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 4 – 5 sage leaves finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated


  • Preheat the oven to 450. If you're using mushrooms that need to be stemmed, stem them! (Shiitakes need to be stemmed and the stems need to be discarded.) Tear the mushrooms into one-inch pieces and toss them with the olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary and place on a cookie sheet. Roast in the oven, tossing every five minutes, until deeply burnished brown on the edges. Set aside.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season well with salt. Add the pasta and cook a few minutes less than package directions. Drain but don't rinse! (Rinsing will stop the sauce from sticking to the pasta.)
  • Now the easiest part: crank the oven to 500 degrees and stir together the cream, ricotta, fontina, Parmesan (leaving some to sprinkle on top), sage and garlic. Taste and adjust for salt; then stir in the mushrooms. Pour into a 9 X 13-inch dish, sprinkle with the extra Parmesan, and bake until it's bubbling in spots, about 10 to 15 minutes. If you want it extra burnished on top, stick it under the broiler and keep an eye on it. As soon as you get some nice golden brown spots, take it out and serve.


Again, I doubled this recipe from the original recipe, so definitely feel free to halve everything if you’re serving just two to four people. Also, if you stick to my doubled version, you don’t have to use the full two pounds of mushrooms (I only had the one pound that I bought when I decided to double everything and it still turned out great).

Related Posts:

Socca (An Italian Beef, Cabbage, and Potato Casserole)

Gina DePalma’s Fonduta

Baked Ziti

Birthday Lasagna

2 thoughts on “Baked Pasta with Fontina and Roasted Mushrooms”

  1. I’m so happy you’ve returned to blogging! I subscribed to your newsletter when you started it, (still do, just not as a paying member (sorry), and one of the chief reasons for that decision is exactly what you cited as your reason for reviving this blog….the recipes! I especially disliked and found it frustrating that Substack doesn’t have an option to save recipes on pinterest and that’s what I depend on to organize everything I find online.
    Anyway, welcome back!Thanks for your culinary voice.

  2. Re: mushrooms

    Try starting them in a hot, dry pan with a bit of liquid (water, wine…) until they give up all of their liquid and the pan is almost dry again. Then add the fat. I don’t remember where I read that, but it’s been life changing.

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