This recipe for Baked Pasta Bianca is one of the easiest macaroni and cheese recipes you will every make. It features a combination of 5 delicious Italian cheeses and cream to build a simple sauce that finishes in the oven.
½ to 1cupchicken broth or stock(or vegetable broth/stock for vegetarian)
½cupfreshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano(or substitute Grana Padano)*
½cupfreshly grated Pecorino Romano
¼cupfinely crumbled Gorgonzola (or other blue cheese(or substitute shredded Italian fontina)*
½teaspoonkosher saltor more as needed
1pounddried pasta(such as shells, penne, cavatappi, or your favorite)
Preheat the oven to 500°F with the oven rack in the center. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Combine the cream, ½ cup chicken broth, all the cheeses, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Set aside.
Generously salt the boiling water and add the pasta. Cook, stirring often, for 5 to 7 minutes (about half as long as the package says for al dente). The pasta will be parboiled and too hard to eat, but it cooks further in the oven. Drain the pasta and add to the mixing bowl, combining thoroughly with the cheese mixture. If it seems too thick, add more broth until the pasta moves freely and is surrounded by liquid.
Transfer to individual shallow baking dishes or 1 large shallow baking dish. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the pasta is very bubbly throughout and browned at the edges. Serve immediately.
Because this recipe for baked pasta bianca is so simple, I do not recommend assembling the entire thing in advance. You can combine the cheeses, cream, and broth in advance and refrigerate them until needed, then just par-boil the pasta, combine and bake.
This recipe serves 4 to 6 as a main dish or 6 to 8 as a first course. In the photos I have made a half recipe in a slightly smaller baking dish than I would have for the full recipe.
Don't stress if you don't have all 5 of the cheeses listed in the recipe. I have provided some alternatives in the ingredient notes above, or you can try any of your other favorite cheeses using the same process to create your own unique variation.
The original recipe stated to only bake for 8 to 10 minutes but I find that is not nearly enough time to get a super thick and bubbly sauce. I have increased it for more uniform results across all types of ovens. If you want to bake it less, that's fine too, but you may have more residual sauce and it may not be bubbly all the way in the center if using a large baking dish.
Some of the pasta pieces that float on the top will get crusty. This is great! When serving it, however, I often like to give it a little stir to help the cheese sauce coat those dryer pieces, and then scoop into serving bowls or plates.