45 Alice Waters Cheese And Pasta Gratin

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Alice Waters Cheese and Pasta Gratin


Alice Waters, the renowned American chef and restaurateur, is known for her commitment to using fresh, locally sourced ingredients to create simple yet flavorful dishes. One of her most beloved recipes is her Cheese and Pasta Gratin, a comforting and indulgent dish that is perfect for a cozy dinner at home. In this article, we will explore the origins of this classic dish, the key ingredients that make it so delicious, and step-by-step instructions on how to recreate it in your own kitchen.

The Origins of Cheese and Pasta Gratin

Cheese and Pasta Gratin, also known as macaroni and cheese, has a long and rich history that can be traced back to ancient times. The combination of pasta and cheese has been a staple in many cultures around the world, with variations of the dish appearing in Italian, French, and American cuisines. However, it was Alice Waters who popularized her version of the gratin, which has become a favorite among food lovers and home cooks alike.

The Key Ingredients

What sets Alice Waters' Cheese and Pasta Gratin apart from other recipes is the quality and selection of ingredients. Here are the key components that make this dish truly exceptional:

1. Pasta

The foundation of any gratin is the pasta. Alice Waters recommends using short, tubular pasta such as macaroni or penne. These shapes are perfect for holding onto the creamy sauce and cheese, ensuring every bite is packed with flavor.

2. Cheese

The star of the show in this dish is, of course, the cheese. Alice Waters suggests using a combination of flavorful cheeses such as Gruyère, Parmesan, and cheddar. The sharpness of the cheeses adds depth to the dish, while the creamy texture creates a luscious, gooey sauce.

3. Bechamel Sauce

Alice Waters' recipe calls for a classic bechamel sauce, a white sauce made from butter, flour, and milk. This velvety sauce acts as the binder for the pasta and cheese, ensuring a smooth and creamy texture throughout the dish.

4. Breadcrumbs

To add a crispy and golden topping to the gratin, Alice Waters suggests sprinkling breadcrumbs over the dish before baking. This simple addition adds a delightful contrast in texture and elevates the overall presentation of the dish.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Now that we have explored the origins and key ingredients of Alice Waters' Cheese and Pasta Gratin, let's dive into the step-by-step instructions on how to make this mouthwatering dish:

1. Boil the Pasta

Start by boiling a large pot of salted water and cooking the pasta according to the package instructions. Be sure to cook the pasta al dente, as it will continue to cook in the oven later on. Drain the pasta and set it aside.

2. Prepare the Bechamel Sauce

In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Once melted, whisk in flour to create a roux. Cook the roux for a few minutes until it turns a light golden color. Gradually whisk in milk, stirring constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Continue cooking the sauce until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. Grate the Cheese

While the sauce is thickening, grate the cheeses using a box grater or a food processor fitted with a grating attachment. You will need approximately 2 cups of grated cheese in total.

4. Combine the Pasta, Cheese, and Sauce

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked pasta, grated cheese, and bechamel sauce. Stir well to ensure the pasta is evenly coated with the sauce and the cheese is distributed throughout.

5. Transfer to a Baking Dish

Grease a baking dish with butter or cooking spray, then transfer the pasta mixture into the dish. Spread it out evenly to create a smooth surface.

6. Top with Breadcrumbs

Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top of the pasta mixture, ensuring an even layer. This will create a delightful crunch when the gratin is baked.

7. Bake in the Oven

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) and bake the gratin for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the sauce is bubbling around the edges.

8. Serve and Enjoy

Once the gratin is baked to perfection, remove it from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes. Serve it hot and enjoy the creamy, cheesy goodness that Alice Waters' Cheese and Pasta Gratin has to offer.

Variations and Tips

While Alice Waters' Cheese and Pasta Gratin is a delightful dish on its own, there are several variations and tips that you can explore to make it your own:

1. Add Vegetables

To incorporate more nutrients and flavors into the dish, consider adding sautéed vegetables such as spinach, mushrooms, or roasted red peppers. These additions will bring a pop of color and an extra layer of deliciousness to the gratin.

2. Experiment with Different Cheeses

While Alice Waters recommends a specific combination of cheeses, feel free to experiment with different varieties to suit your taste. From creamy brie to tangy goat cheese, the options are endless.

3. Try Different Pasta Shapes

While macaroni is the traditional choice for a gratin, you can switch it up by using other pasta shapes such as fusilli, farfalle, or even spaghetti. The key is to choose a shape that will hold onto the sauce and cheese.

4. Make it Gluten-Free

If you follow a gluten-free diet, you can still enjoy the cheesy goodness of Alice Waters' gratin. Simply substitute regular pasta with gluten-free pasta and use a gluten-free flour blend to make the bechamel sauce.


Alice Waters' Cheese and Pasta Gratin is a timeless dish that embodies the simplicity and elegance of her cooking philosophy. With its creamy sauce, gooey cheese, and crispy breadcrumb topping, this gratin is sure to delight your taste buds and warm your soul. Whether you stick to the classic recipe or put your own spin on it, one thing is certain - this dish is a true crowd-pleaser that will become a staple in your kitchen.