- 6 ounces of penne pasta. I use a smaller pasta that is easier for the kids to eat, like salad noodles or seashells.
- 1 1/2 t of unsalted butter
- 1 T virgin olive oil
- 2 T Flour
- 2 1/2 Cups of Milk
- 4 1/2 ounces of Cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2 inch dice (1 cup). I use Colby/Cheddar shredded cheese mix and I use about 2 cups....we like it cheesy.
- 3/4 t salt....I add a little more
- 3/4 fresh ground black pepper. We omit, we don't care for black pepper
- 1 large tomato (8 ounces), halved, seeded, and the flesh cut into 1/2 inch dice, (1 1/4 cups). Tim and the kids don't care for tomatoes so I leave it out.
- 1 1/2 T grated Parmesan cheese. I use shredded because that is what I have on hand.
- 1/2 t paprika
Boil water in a pot, and add noodles, boil past over medium heat, uncovered for about 8 minutes. (The pasta should be al dente, firm to the bite.)
Drain pasta in colander, rinse it under cold water until cool, and set aside.
- Heat butter & oil in a saucepan, and add flour.
- Cook mix over medium heat for about 10 seconds
- Add milk & stir it in quickly with a whisk so it won't scorch.
- Bring it to a boil & boil for 10 seconds
- Add cheese, salt, & pepper, & mix well.
- Then cook over low heat for 3 to 4 minutes & set aside.
When ready to finish the gratin, pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix the pasta with cheese sauce and transfer to a 6 cup gratin dish. I use a square Pyrex dish or a 10 1/2 x 8 3/4 inch dish, or a 9 x 13 Pyrex dish.
Sprinkle tomato on top of mixture.
Combine Parmesan & paprika in a small bowl and sprinkle over whole dish.
Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees, until bubbly and nicely browned on top.
If making the gratin at the last moment, and assembling is while the sauce & pasta are both hot, do not bake the gratin. Instead, place it under a hot broiler until golden brown on top.
Its really good and it is even better the next day.