Ultimate Pasta Gratin

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Fairly Easy
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  • 250-300g (9-11oz) dry pasta (penne or fusilli)
  • 500g (18oz) broccoli and cauliflower
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 150g (5oz) smoked lardons
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 100ml (3fl oz) white wine
  • 600ml (21fl oz) whole (or semi-skimmed) milk
  • 30g (1oz) butter
  • 30g (1oz) all-purpose flour
  • 100g (3.5oz) grated Parmigiano Reggiano (24 months)
  • 150-200g (5-7oz) grated Gruyère (12 months+)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • Optional
  • 2 slices stale bread
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 20-30g flaked almonds
  • Extra virgin olive oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/gas mark 4.
  2. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the pack. Drain, toss with some olive oil and set aside.
  3. In a separate saucepan, boil medium-sized florets of cauliflower and broccoli for about 4-5 minutes (or until tender). When ready, add to the cooked pasta.
  4. Meanwhile, heat a frying pan and fry the lardons and shallots for 4-5 minutes until golden-brown. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and continue to cook until most of the wine has evaporated. When ready, add to the pasta and vegetable mix.
  5. Heat the milk (either on the stove or in the microwave). In another medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat until foamy. Remove from heat and whisk in the flour, stirring until a smooth roux has formed. Return the saucepan to medium heat, and begin to add the hot milk to the roux. You should add milk slowly, 100ml (3fl oz) at a time, completely incorporating it before adding more (do not rush here as it’s crucial for creating a smooth sauce).
  6. After all the milk has been added, continue to whisk the sauce for another 2-3 minutes until it thickens. Then add the grated cheese (reserving some for the top), salt and pepper, and stir until the cheese has completely melted.
  7. Pour the sauce over the pasta, lardons and vegetable mixture and then pour into a gratin dish.
  8. Optional (but an absolute must for me): crumble the bread by hand (or blitz in a food processor), add thyme, almond flakes, some reserved cheese and olive oil. Mix it all together and scatter evenly over the pasta mixture. Otherwise sprinkle the reserved grated cheese on top.
  9. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden and crunchy. When it’s ready, enjoy slowly and share with your favourite people.

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