This pasta dish, Three European Cheese Penne, offers a combination of American-French, Swiss and Italian cheeses melted together in a silky sauce, no cream needed. The whole grain penne pasta adds a little bite to the dish. Not a fancy dish in appearance, but certainly fancy in flavor.
Like almost all of us, I like Mac & Cheese and have made a whole heap of variations, different Cheddars, Gruyere, Fontina, Mozzarella, Provolone and of course different types of pasta and many of these variations are wonderful. Mac & Cheese never has to be the same as the last one and is therefore will never be boring. So, to set this Mac & Cheese apart from the rest, I thought, I’ll give it a slightly different title Three European Cheese Penne.
The cheeses in the cheese sauce are Camembert, cave-aged Gruyere and Parmigiano Reggiano; and the pasta is not the elbow pasta, but whole grain penne. All three cheeses melt easily; you’ll need to cut the rind off the Camembert and then cut it into small pieces. The rind is perfectly edible, but doesn’t melt as easily as the cheese and leaves little pieces in the sauce. The Gruyere is a cave-aged, and has more flavor than a normal Gruyere; both the Gruyere and the Parmigiano cheese needs to be shredded.
The flavor combination of this saucy concoction is sharp, fruity and nutty from the Parmigiano, sweet, salty and earthy from the Gruyere and creamy, buttery and milky from the Camembert. How does this combination tastes, that’s very hard to describe; the best I can do is a sweet, silky sauce with some sharper edges and earthy notes. No, I am not describing the wine; I am trying to describe the cheese sauce. Just try to describe a flavor; one of the hardest things in food, it is an art in itself, in my opinion.
Cook the pasta, make a cheese sauce (butter, flour and milk and cheese). Add salt, pepper, nutmeg and dried thyme. Mix pasta with cheese sauce and divide over 2 dishes. Sprinkle some Gruyere over the top and slide the Three European Cheese Penne under the broiler until cheese has melted.
Three European Cheese Penne
- 4 ounes whole grain penne pasta
- 2 ounces butter
- 2 ounces all-purpose flour
- 2 cups skim milk
- 3 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano cheese grated
- 3 ounces Cave-aged Gruyere cheese grated
- 3 ounces Camembert
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- salt and pepper
- nutmeg optional
- Boil water and salt in a pot and cook the pasta according to the direction on the packaging. Drain.
- Melt butter in a medium pot or large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook for 1 minute, creating a roux.
- Slowly add milk and stir until you have a smooth sauce.
- Remove the rind from the Camembert and cut into small cubes. Add Camembert and other 2 cheeses to sauce (leave a little bit of the Gruyere behind to top the dish. Stir the sauce until the all cheese is melted.
- Add salt and pepper to taste and nutmeg if you like.
- Add 1 tablespoon of thyme and mix.
- Add penne pasta to sauce and divide over 2 oven-resistant dishes.
- Divide left-over gruyere over the top of the pasta and slide dishes under hot broiler until cheese has melted.