One of the best things about cooler weather is turning on the oven and making comfort food. How can you go wrong with a pan of gooey, delicious cheese? This is an adaptation of a recipe from Everyday Italian, one of my favorite cookbooks. You can assemble this recipe ahead of time and then just bake it before serving.
8 Tbsp of butter, 3 Tbsp need to be diced
1 tsp of olive oil
1/2 cup of flour
4 cups of warm whole milk-do not use skim!
Salt and pepper
2 cups of Asiago, Parmesan or a 5 cheese Italian blend
1 box of penne
Preheat oven to 425. Lightly coat the bottom of a 9 x 13 dish with olive oil. Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta. To make the bechamel sauce, melt the butter in a large pan. Add the flour and wisk until smooth for about 2 minutes. Gradually add the warm milk, whisking constantly to avoid clumps. Simmer over medium heat, whisking until the sauce is thick and smooth, about 10 min. Do not allow the sauce to boil. Turn the heat to low and add 1 cup of the cheese. Add a 1/2 tsp of salt and a pinch of pepper. Taste the sauce and add additional salt and pepper if necessary. Remove the sauce from the heat and set aside. Cook the pasta for 5-7 min, until almost tender but firm since it will continue baking in the oven. Drain the pasta and add the cheese sauce. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Place pasta mixture into the prepared 9 x 13 dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup of cheese and dot the top of the dish with 3 Tbsp of diced butter. Bake for 25 min or until the sauce bubbles and the top is golden brown. I like to finish the dish in the broiler the last few minutes to get the cheese golden brown because my oven never seems to do that on its own. Enjoy!