Gluten Free Baked Pesto Penne

Gluten Free Baked Pesto Penne Recipe

The very first “classic” recipe I recall setting out to learn was Béchamel or white sauce. I was a teenager at the time and it just seemed like a good thing to know how to make.

One of the five “mother sauces” of French cuisine, Béchamel is really versatile and can be the base of so many other fabulous things such as cream soups, spinach gratin, and cheese dip (not to mention mac and cheese!) Personally I love Béchamel so much I can just eat it off a spoon and when no one is looking, I do just that.

Béchamel is nothing more than butter, flour, milk, salt, and pepper. Sometimes the French heat the milk with an onion studded with cloves and the Italians add in nutmeg but in essence with the help of some heat and whisking, those four ingredients transform into something much greater than the sum of their parts.

Béchamel starts with a roux – equal parts butter and flour cooked together until it forms a sort of paste. Since Béchamel is a white sauce, the roux is not browned as it can be for other things such as jambalaya; the flour and butter are cooked just long enough to cook out any flour taste.

This brings me to a very important point for us gluten free peeps, the flour. You can, of course, use an all-purpose gluten free flour blend or you can simply use sweet rice flour (sometimes called glutinous rice flour). Sweet rice flour has just the right amount of starchiness to it and is neutral enough to make it perfect for gluten free Béchamel (or gravy for that matter.)

What you are going to use your Béchamel for and how thick you want it is all about how much milk to roux you use; for a thin, pourable sauce (such as cream soup or sausage gravy) one tablespoon of butter and flour per cup of milk is used, a medium-bodied sauce (think mac and cheese) is two tablespoons butter and flour per cup, and for really thick sauces such as the base of a soufflé, 3 tablespoons per cup.

Don’t be afraid of Béchamel, it is so simple to master and once you do, you will find a zillion ways to use it!

One of my very favorites is in this Gluten Free Baked Pesto Penne recipe, where I combine Béchamel with gluten free penne pasta (I like to use Pastariso Brown Rice Penne) and one of my other favorite sauces – pesto. I layer it all up with some extra parmesan cheese, bake it up and the end result is heaven in a bite.

Gluten Free Baked Penne Pasta Recipe

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Gluten Free Baked Pesto Penne
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Gluten Free Baked Pesto Penne Recipe

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time55 mins
Total Time1 hr 10 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 615kcal
Author: Gluten Free & More



  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a deep dish lasagna pan.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the penne according to the package directions. Reserve about ½ cup of the starchy pasta water and drain the penne.
  • Put the basil, pine nuts, garlic cloves, ½ cup Parmesan cheese, and 1/3 cup of olive oil in a blender or food processor. Process until a smooth paste forms. If needed add a little more olive oil.
  • Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Continue to whisk the flour and butter as it cooks for a minute. Add about 1 cup of the milk and whisk well to dissolve any lumps. Add the rest of the milk, 1 teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, and the nutmeg. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce the temperature and simmer the mixture until thick, about 15 minutes. Ladle about ¾ cup of the béchamel into the bottom of the prepared pan. Stir the penne into the rest of the sauce. If the sauce is too thick, stir in some of your reserved pasta water.
  • Layer half the pasta in the pan, spread half the pesto on top and sprinkle on ½ cup of Parmesan cheese. Repeat one more time. Sprinkle a little bit of salt and pepper on top and bake for 35 – 40 minutes or until the pasta is bubbly and the top is beginning to brown.


Nutrition Facts
Gluten Free Baked Pesto Penne Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 615 Calories from Fat 315
% Daily Value*
Fat 35g54%
Saturated Fat 14g70%
Cholesterol 60mg20%
Sodium 348mg15%
Potassium 287mg8%
Carbohydrates 52g17%
Fiber 4g16%
Sugar 8g9%
Protein 20g40%
Vitamin A 1370IU27%
Vitamin C 2.6mg3%
Calcium 390mg39%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog owner’s. This blog accepts free manufacturers’ samples and forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation. Affiliate links may be included in this post.

Disclaimer: All nutrition facts on Gluten Free & More are meant only as a guide and may differ depending on product brands used or ingredient substitutions. Some errors may occur, so you are encouraged to confirm the recipe’s ingredient and nutrition suitability for your own diet.
Have you tried this recipe? Give it a star rating and let us know your thoughts in the Ratings & Reviews section below.
Tags: Baked Basil Corn Free Pasta Penne Pesto
  1. hello! i just wanted to say how happy i am to have found you! starting from instagram (this morning) to facebook, to your videos, to your blog), i’ve browsed through all, and cannot wait to continue to do so. i’m “aplacetoshare” on instagram, so if you notice lots of new “likes”, that’s me! completely inspired by what i’ve seen so far, and can’t wait to dig deeper, and try some recipes!

    1. Gluten Free & More
      June 1, 2013

      So nice to meet you Torrie! I look forward to keeping in touch – I love instagram, don’t you?

  2. Jacqueline
    June 1, 2013

    As delicious as this looks and sounds, I’m feeling like many of your recipes neglect the fact that many who are gluten free are also casein free, unfortunately. How I’m missing milk products, and occasionally cheat…but I can deal with paying the price, my 3 y/o can’t make that decision so I try to steer clear. Please suggest alternatives when appropriate to the dish.

    Thank you!

    GFCF and not loving it…

    1. Gluten Free & More
      June 1, 2013

      Hi Jacqueline, I do have many recipes that are specifically dairy free and in cases like this recipe it is simple to convert to dairy free – just swap out the butter with dairy free butter and the milk with dairy free milk – choose which type you like best.Enjoy!

  3. Lynne H
    June 1, 2013

    Hi Carol – this absolutely sounds Yummy – I can’t wait to make it. I love Penne pasta. Also, I use vegan parmesan cheese from Publix sold in the organic area and it’s not bad. I also use Earth Balance instead of butter and Rice Milk instead of regular milk. Thank you so much for all your wonderful and creative recipes.

    1. Gluten Free & More
      June 5, 2013

      Hi Lynne, thank YOU so much and thanks for your suggestions on how you are going to substitute things, so helpful to my readers!

  4. June 1, 2013

    I love recipes with pesto! I know I’m going to enjoy this recipe.

    1. Gluten Free & More
      June 5, 2013

      Thanks Ren, enjoy!

  5. June 5, 2013

    This looks delicious!

    Everytime I hear the word “beshcamel” , I tend to think that it would be so difficult or complicated to make! you make it look so easy! hope to try it out soon

    1. Gluten Free & More
      June 5, 2013

      Thanks Kerjan – it is not difficult at all. I hope you do make it and that you enjoy it as much as I!

  6. June 6, 2013

    Gess Im off to make dinner then!

    Yummy! :)

    Jen X

    1. Gluten Free & More
      June 6, 2013

      Haha! Enjoy.

  7. Cathy Shackelford
    April 7, 2016

    I have Cealiac disease it has been a challenge for me to find recipes that are GF so thanks this looks absolutely delicious

    1. Gluten Free & More
      April 8, 2016

      Hi Cathy,
      Glad to hear I can help make things a little easier for you!

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