Who doesn’t love a really good mac ‘n cheese? Or in this instance, any macaroni-sized pasta with a combination of your favorite cheeses. Here I used rotini pasta, Parmigiano Reggiano, Mozzarella, cave-aged Gruyere and a mature Dutch Prima Donna.
Use whatever combination of soft and hard cheeses you like. And for a truly sublime result, don’t completely blend the cheeses into the pasta before baking – leave them a bit arbitrary, that way you’ll have a selection of deliciously different mouthfuls.
PASTA WITH FOUR CHEESES (Pasta con Quattro Formaggi)
1 pint (600ml) of bechamel sauce – directions below
3 oz (75g) each of the following cheeses, or whatever you prefer:
- Parmesan – grated (save half of this for the topping)
- Fresh Mozzarella – sliced thinly
- Gruyere – cut into little matchsticks
- Aged Gouda or Bella Donna, cut into little matchsticks
2 oz (50g) of butter
12 oz (350g) of your favorite pasta shapes such as macaroni, shells, bucatini, penne, fusili, etc.
Preheat the oven to 425F (220C).
Cook the pasta according to instructions, until it’s only just al-dente. Drain and tip into a well-buttered oven proof dish.
Meanwhile make the sauce as follows (and this is the laziest way possible):
In a heavy pan, combine 1 pint (600ml) of milk, 2 oz (50g) of butter, 2oz (50g) of plain flour, a bay leaf, a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg, a small piece of onion, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Over a moderate heat and whisking continuously to fully combine the ingredients, bring it to a boil. Once thickened, take the sauce off the heat and discard the onion and bay leaf.
Pour the sauce over the cooked pasta in the baking dish, stirring well to combine, then add the cheeses, one at a time, folding them through the pasta until randomly distributed.
Scatter the remaining Parmesan over the top and dot with a little more butter. Bake in the preheated oven for 12 minutes – just long enough to melt all the cheese.
Finally, stick it under the broiler/grill for a few minutes to create a crunchy golden topping just before serving with a nice little green salad perhaps.