Place bread in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure 4 cups; set aside.
Heat a large nonstick saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat with cooking spray. Add pancetta, onion, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Place flour in a small bowl; gradually add 3/4 cup milk, stirring until smooth. Add flour mixture, remaining 3 cups milk, and half-and-half to pan; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat, and simmer 2 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Add spinach; cook 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese, salt, and pepper, stirring until cheese melts.
Place pasta in a large bowl. Add sauce mixture to pasta; toss well. Spoon mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Combine breadcrumbs and butter; toss well. Sprinkle over pasta mixture.
Bake at 425° for 6 minutes or until crumbs are lightly browned.
Wasn't sure how this would turn out, but it was really tasty! We made the topping as instructed and I would highly recommend it. The buttery little flakes really made the dish. We added a pinch of nutmeg to the creamy sauce (a la Rachel Ray), but otherwise followed the directions. Turned out well, but made A LOT. That 9x13 was pretty heavy and I imagine this would not freeze well. We'll have to invite a few people over to help the two of us finish it off! Will be making this again, probably for guests or a potluck as mentioned in previous reviews.
By far one of our family's favorite recipes. The first time we made it, it seemed like there was too much so we halved the recipe the second time. But now that we've made it several times, we make the full recipe. Great leftovers. Our only complaint is that there doesn't seem to be enough pancetta. We add a some extra ham for a more meat in every bite.
I really like this recipe. Cheated and used Panko instead of making my own bread crumbs. Also, added Tobasco to the mix with the cheese after reading some earlier reviews that stated it was a bit bland. And, I added a handful of mushrooms b/c I love them. It really makes a ton, which is great if you have to bring a dish for potluck. I will definitely make this again...I froze some of it and hope it thaws out nice, fingers-crossed!
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