This is a super simple, straight-forward recipe that has been reduced down to a perfect portion of one. The recipe can be modified in many ways, however you like. I like the combination of using three cheeses here but this recipe also works just as well using only a good sharp cheddar cheese. You can add in other ingredients before baking such as cooked smoked bacon or lobster meat. You can also add breadcrumbs to the top before baking for a nice, crunchy crust if you prefer.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
Cornmeal, for dusting
4 ounces cavatappi
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons Gruyère cheese, freshly grated
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated
2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 12-ounce soufflé dish on bottom and all sides with 1 tablespoon of butter. Gently dust with cornmeal, shaking out any excess, and place on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Set aside.
2. Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil and add salt. Add pasta and cook for about 5-7 minutes (pasta will continue to cook while it bakes so it’s important not to fully cook it here). Drain pasta and set aside.
3. In the same saucepan, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until lightly golden brown, making a roux. Slowly pour in milk and continue stirring, until you have a smooth, creamy mixture. Add mustard and season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Add 1/2 cup Gruyère cheese and all of cheddar and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Continue to whisk until mixtures starts to thicken and cheeses have melted. Add pasta back to saucepan and coat thoroughly with cheese sauce.
4. Transfer mixture to prepared soufflé dish and top with remaining 2 tablespoons Gruyère cheese. Season with salt and pepper and bake for 25-35 minutes, until bubbly and slightly golden brown (cover with aluminum foil during baking if needed if top is too brown).