First I cooked up a large leek in some olive oil and after about 3-4 minutes I added in the asparagus. These only took a few minutes to cook, and it's best to under-cook them a bit so they don't get too mushy when the whole casserole gets baked.
I made a béchamel sauce with 2 tablespoons of butter, two tablespoons of flour and 2 cups of milk. I chopped up a large clove of garlic and threw that in. Once the mixture thickened, I added in about 2 ounces of cheddar that I had in the fridge, along with a bit of feta that I had left over from the eggplant caponata toast that I made a few nights ago. I stirred in about 3/4 of a container of ricotta, grated in some nutmeg and added in a large pinch each of cayenne pepper, mustard powder (both of these are always good in mac and cheese) and dried tarragon.
When the pasta was cooked (I used orecchiette) I stirred everything together in a nice glass baking dish. I sprinkled on some chopped up parsley and chives and topped that off with panko breadcrumbs and a few drizzles of olive oil. The whole thing baked in the oven at about 375 degrees until the top was golden! I served it with another little sprinkling of fresh chives. This was delicious!
P.S. I picked up some chives at the farmer's market yesterday and I've been using them in everything! This morning I made the best scrambled eggs ever with a fresh red chili, shallots and tons of chives! YUM