Healthy Baked Rigatoni with Bechamel Sauce

This is my take on Giada’s classic baked rigatoni with bechamel sauce recipe. I added a twist on it to make it more healthy and rich in fiber.

We love baked pasta with bechamel sauce, it’s one of our family’s favorite and one that I often made before. I thought of tweaking this old favorite to suit our “healthy appetite”. I used extra-vigin olive oil instead of butter, I figure since the recipe requires melted/liquid butter anyway, why not used a healthier alternative like olive oil. I replaced all-purpose flour with wholewheat flour and used high fiber rigatoni and added tuna instead of bacon or ham and used low-fat milk.

The result: Yummy, not as creamy and loaded with sauce but that’s exactly what I am after with this dish. I may never go back to my old favorite recipe from Giada, uhm, well maybe with the exception of adding ham/prociutto, there will be lots of those during Christmas season, it’s shame to make it go to waste.

Why don’t you TRY this HEALTHIER version too, 🙂

HERE’s how to make my healthy high-fiber, low-(er-in) fat take on baked rigatoni with bechamel sauce

high_fiber_rigatoni_pasta_1 I’m using this high-fiber pasta


first make a roux with olive oil and wholewheat pastry flour

cook for at least 2 minutes…keep stirring so the flour won’t burn


add low-fat milk, cook until it’s thick enough;  you know it’s ready when it coats the back of a spoon


add tuna and cheese


sprinkle grated parmesan on top before baking


out of the before serving..yum!

high-fiber, lower-in- fat and good for you 🙂

serves 4-5

2 1/2 cups high fiber rigatoni (or penne, ziti)
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoon wholewheat flour
2 cups low-fat milk
nutmeg (optional)
sea salt or coarse salt and pepper to tast
1/3 cup cheese, I used processed cheddar, use any cheese you like
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (not Reggiano, way too expensive for everyday pasta meal, but if you have one, it’s better)
a can (180 g) of hot and spicy tuna; drained

First, in a large pot, bring to a boil 2 quarts of salted water. Add the rigatoni and cook for about 5 minutes. Since you will be cooking the pasta a second time in the oven, you want to make sure the inside is still hard. Drain in a colander.

While that is cooking..

Make the Bechamel Sauce: Heat two tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, add in the wholewheat pastry flour. Cook for 2 minutes.

Gradually add the milk while stirring contantly to avoid any lumps; season. Cook until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and add a dash of nutmeg,if using, 1/2 cup cheese, tuna and season with salt and black pepper or white if you don’t want to see specks of black on your pasta but it won’t matter anyway since it’s not really a white sauce anymore because of the whole wheat flour.

Add cooked pasta to the bechamel sauce. Using a wooden spoon, mix well until all the pasta is coated with the sauce. Pour into greased (lightly spray with canola/ olive oil cooking spray) 8×8 baking dish and sprinkle grated parmesan cheese on top.

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until bubbling and the top is lightly golden/browned. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.



12 Responses to "Healthy Baked Rigatoni with Bechamel Sauce"

  1. Jeramy Stapleford   October 18, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    Health is always a great concern for most people.

  2. tere coronel   August 22, 2011 at 12:59 am

    Hi. What taste does nutmeg give? I’ve never tried nutmeg in my dishes. Thank you for sharing your recipes:)

  3. Jessie   September 15, 2009 at 7:02 am

    ohhhh I love your healthy take on this delicious dish, I’m loving the bechamel sauce

    • Olive   September 15, 2009 at 7:42 am

      Hi Jessie 🙂

      I’m glad you liked it, thank you and the same goes to you sizzlechef 🙂

  4. sizzlechef   September 15, 2009 at 5:17 am

    Thank you for sharing. Cheers !

  5. Ja Cie Kocham (Kristi)   September 14, 2009 at 6:51 am

    LOVE the healthy version!! I love pasta, but I try to stay clear of fatty creams and cheeses. This is great! Thank you!!!

  6. Southern Grace Gourmet   September 14, 2009 at 4:27 am

    This looks so good. I would never have tried the whole wheat flour, great idea. I didn’t know you could do that. I have made this basic recipe, but with white flour, and added spinach and black olives. I will try the sauce that way next time. Great tip!

    • Olive   September 14, 2009 at 8:40 am

      the spinach and black olives sound good, I’ll give it a try next time.. Thanks 🙂

  7. Divina   September 14, 2009 at 1:23 am

    Looks heavenly and it’s healthier too. That would be a good and flavorful pasta

    • Olive   September 14, 2009 at 2:48 am

      thanks Divine 🙂

  8. The Klutzy Cook   September 13, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    Well done. I love this version of bechamel sauce and will definitely give it a try. We also love our baked pastas and if they can be healthier, all the better.

    • Olive   September 13, 2009 at 11:29 pm

      thanks, glad you liked it 🙂
      ..that’s what I thought too, if there’s a way to make a dish healthier, I’d go that way


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