Baked Penne and Cheese

I think we all have our own macaroni and cheese recipes that we come back to time and time again. I, myself, always start by making a  béchamel sauce, and melting in my favorite cheeses. I always add nutmeg, salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a pinch of cayenne. Depending on my mood, however, I might also add a teaspoon or so of Dijon mustard (which adds a nice background acidic note that is really lovely), a tablespoon or so of pimentón (since I apparently cannot cook anything without it), any number of different fresh herbs, and really, whatever else sounds good to me at the time. Here I took slightly undercooked penne pasta and tossed it in the thick and creamy cheese sauce (made with extra sharp cheddar, Gruyère, and a little bit of Gorgonzola, for that amazingly delicious, complex, picante flavor). I then added a handful of chopped fresh basil, some cooked bacon (the fat from which I used to make the base of the béchamel), I portioned the pasta into individual gratin dishes, and topped them off with some fresh bread crumbs and a few dots of butter (to ensure browning). This is really macaroni and cheese dressed up for company. Serve it with a simple green salad, and you have the makings of a perfect dinner party. Enjoy!

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3 Comments

Filed under Pasta

3 responses to “Baked Penne and Cheese

  1. Love the cheese selections for this:) Looks amazing!

  2. I just finished eating dinner – yet your description of this delicious dish is making me hungry!
    YUM-O.

  3. Ok, you had me at the first photo! Looks divine…

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