Loretta Sebastiani

Loretta Sebastiani
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Macaroni or penne au gratin
( Penne gratinate )

Traditional Italian pasta recipe

Pasta au gratin is a traditional Italian dish well known all over the world but there is not only a recipe. In other words there are a lot of versions, as usual when you talk about Italian recipes. When I make this recipe at home I try to use less butter and Parmesan. Here it is my own version!

difficulty: easy

time: preparation: 20 minutes
plus cooling time for béchamel sauce
cooking: 45 minutes
total: 1 hour 5 minutes

calories: 552 (kCal)

Ingredients / Serves 4

  • 280g (10 ounces) penne or other short pasta (macaroni ...)
  • Béchamel sauce for 4 people
  • 30g (1 ounce) unsalted butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 60g (2.1 ounces) grated Parmesan
  • Salt
easy recipe
preparation: 20 minutes
plus cooling time for béchamel sauce
cooking: 45 minutes
total: 1 hour 5 minutes
How many calories in a serving?
Calories: 552 (kcal) 28 % - 2308 (kJ)
Protein: 17.2 (g) 35 % GDA
Total fat: 25.3 (g) 37 % GDA
Total carbohydrate: 68.2 (g) 26 % GDA
Sugars: 6.8 (g) 8 % GDA

Download free PDF version (287 download).

Penne au gratin recipe

Preparation and cooking

  • - Prepare béchamel sauce.
    Follow my instructions or your recipe. Link below!
    Let it cool and then add egg yolk and stir very well.
  • - Meanwhile ...
    ... cook penne until al dente stage.
  • - Preheat oven to 200 °C (400°F).
  • - Prepare pasta for the oven.
    Grease a deep baking pan (not too large) using half the butter.
    Drain penne and toss them with half the béchamel sauce.
    Make a first layer of penne, sprinkle them with a tablespoon of Parmesan, some béchamel and very little pieces of butter.
    Continue making other layers in the same way until you finish all your ingredients.
    Remember to cover pasta surface with remaining Parmesan, butter and béchamel.

Just before serving

  • - Bake until pasta surface is golden and crunchy.
    Serve hot.



  • - You can choose the shape of short pasta you prefer to make this recipe, the long macaroni too!
  • - Some people use to add other milk before baking pasta but I prefer not to add it for cooking time doubles.
  • - Here are some variations! For example you can substitute egg yolk in the béchamel sauce with 50g (1 3/4 ounces) of cheese such as fontina or asiago or cheddar ... Cut cheese into little cubes and let it melt in the béchamel sauce on very low heat.
    You can lower the amount of calories and fat using a larger pan so you can spoon penne in only one layer. In this way you can use less Parmesan and butter.
  • - If you have no time you can use ready-to-use béchamel sauce.

Menu planning

  • - Gratin pasta, cooked in this way, is quite delicate and can be combined with many courses. So this is a smart choice because you have freedom of action with recipes, especially meat. However, avoid too "juicy" dishes.
    There is only a precaution which I recommend you. You must be very familiar with the tastes and any metabolic needs of your guests. Nowadays intolerance to dairy products is increasing.. Then ask if you have the slightest doubt =_^

Useful links for this recipe

  • - You could be interested in béchamel sauce recipe.
  • - Finally, what is the difference between penne or macaroni au gratin and four cheese pasta?
    Pasta is tossed with a white sauce in both cases.
    Four cheese pasta sauce is made with a great variety of cheese. Pasta is boiled, tossed with this sauce and served at once.
    Penne au gratin are tossed with béchamel sauce, Parmesan cheese and butter and baked until the surface is golden and crunchy.
    If you want you can bake four cheese pasta too but it’s different from pasta au gratin whose main ingredient is béchamel sauce and not cheese.
    But be careful: both the recipes are rich in calories and fat. You can’t eat them often, even if we tried to use less fat than in other Italian-style recipes.

Healthy eating

  • - Being a high-fat and high-calorie dish, despite the reductions that I work, this is the case not to abuse this baked cheese pasta. In other words it should not become a habit in your weekly menu. On the contrary it could be a real attack to your arteries.


What's the right wine for " Macaroni or penne au gratin "?

My husband and I always pair a good glass of Merlot with this delicious baked cheese pasta dish.