Pepin's Penne, Ham and Vegetable Gratin

“I have fallen in love with Jacques Pepin. His recipes, whether complicated or incredibly simple, like this one, always turn out perfect. I've tweaked it a little (forgive me, Jacques) to satisfy my teenager, who has requested this for her "birthday dinner." It's easy, inexpensive, and very satisfying. A real comfort food for us”

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 1 34 cups penne (about 5 ounces)
  • 1 12 cups diced ham (honey ham is delicious in this)
  • 34 cup corn (about one ear, frozen works just fine)
  • 12 cup frozen peas
  • 1 12 cups zucchini, 1/2-inch cubes
  • 34 cup grated cheese (we prefer Gruyere, but any you like will work)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 12 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese


  1. Boil about 2 quarts of water. Add penne and cook about 12 minutes until al dente (slightly firm). Drain and cool under cold water.
  2. Put cooked penne into a large bowl and stir in the ham, corn, peas, zucchini and cheese.
  3. Make the White Sauce:
  4. Melt butter in saucepan, add the flour, and whisk it together until smooth.
  5. Add the milk and bring to a boil, stirring a bit. The sauce should thicken.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream. Let it cool until lukewarm.
  7. Heat the broiler. Add the sauce to the penne and vegetables, and place in a shallow baking dish that can hold about 6 cups.
  8. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.
  9. Broil about 4 inches from the heat until the top is lightly browned (about 6 to 8 minutes).
  10. Serve immediately.
  11. NOTE: Pepin says you can make this ahead of time up to adding the Parmesan. It will keep, covered, at room temperature for a few hours, or up to a day in the fridge before finishing in the oven, so it's a great make-ahead dish. If refrigerated, just bring it back to room temp and bake at 425 for about 30 minutes.
  12. SECOND NOTE: Don't let this sit in the oven after it's finished or it will become gooey.

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