Creamy baked 4-cheese pasta
4-6 as main course, 6-8 as side
3-4 slices white sandwich bread with crusts, torn into quarters
1/4 cup (1/2 oz.) grated Parmesan
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
pasta and cheese
4 oz. Fontina (1 cup) shredded
3 oz. Gorgonzola, crumbled (3/4 cup)
1/2 cup grated pecorino romano (1 oz.)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (1/2 oz.)
1 lb. penne
1 Tbsp plus 1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp unsalted butter
2 tsp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1. for topping: pulse bread in food processur to coarse crumbs, about 10 1-second pulses (you should have about 1 1/2 cups). stir in parmesan, salt, and pepper.
2. for pasta: put oven rack in middle, preheat to 500 degrees.
Bring 4 quarts water to boil. Mix cheeses in a large bowl. Add pasta and 1 Tbsp salt to water and stir.
Melt butter in small saucepan over medium-low heat; whisk flour into butter until no lumps remain (about 30 seconds); gradually whisk in cream, increase heat to medium, and bring heat to boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 minute to ensure that flour cooks. Stir in remaining 1/4 tsp salt and pepper. Cover to keep hot and set aside.
When pasta is very al dente, drain for about 5 seconds, leaving pasta slightly wet. Add pasta to bowl with cheeses, immediately pour cream mixture over, then cover bowl and let stand 3 minutes. Uncover and stir with spatula until cheeses are melted and sauce is combined with pasta.
Transfer to 9 x 13" baking dish, then sprinkle with breadcrumbs, pressing down lightly. Bake about 7 mins, until topping is golden brown.
variation: Add 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained, to pasta with cream mixture and stir in 1/4 cup coarsely chopped basil leaves just before transferring pasta to baking dish.
variation: add 1 cup frozen peas along with cream mixture.
3 russet potatoes (about 8 oz each), peeled, cut lengthwise into 10-12 evenly sized wedges
5 Tbsp. veg or peanut oil
salt and pepper
- dark, nonstick, heavy duty baking sheet is best
1. adjust rack to lowest position; preheat oven to 475 degrees. Place potatoes in large bowl and soak in hot tap water for 10 mins. Meanwhile, coat 18 x 12" heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with 4 Tbsp. oil and sprinkle evenly with 3/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.
2. Drain potatoes. Spread out on paper towels and pat dry. Rinse and wipe out bowl; toss with last Tbsp oil. Arrange in single layer on baking sheet. Cover with foil and bake 5 mins. Remove foil and bake until bottoms of potatoes are spotty golden brown, 15-20 mins, rotating baking sheet after 10 mins. Using metal spatula and tongs, scrape to loosen potatoes from pan, then flip each wedge, keeping in single layer. Continue baking 5-15 mins until fries are golden and crisp, rotating pan as necessary.
3. Transfer fries to second baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain. Season with salt and pepper and serve.