Pepin's Penne, Ham and Vegetable Gratin

Total Time
Prep 15 mins
Cook 8 mins

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.
Most Helpful

This dish invites you to experiment with vege combinations. No zucchini this time of year, so I subbed red bell peppers, onion, and mushrooms for the zucchini and corn. Sauteed them before adding. DH thought the the sauce needed more cheese. Overall, a very nice, very pretty main course. Thanks for sharing!

dianegrapegrower January 01, 2009

I have to plan meals easy enough for my husband to make. The first time he made this, it was a bit more difficult. The recipe was good, but the quantities needed to be enough to serve 5 people and have leftovers, since we take this for lunch the following day (budget saver!). We use parmesan and swiss (Gruyere is hard to get or prohibitively expensive in our area for a weeknight meal). This recipe is delicious, though. We use broccoli, as we have two people who aren't fond of zucchini, but we also made it with the zucchini and it was very good, in my opinion. The nice thing is you can make it as-is, or you can alter it to suit the tastes of your family. It is versatile and delicious. A++

Tinks599 May 26, 2008

This recipe was quite simple to prepare and was very tasty and attractive. Next time I will lightly steam the zucchini before adding it, as the broil time was not quite sufficient to cook it even though I diced it in 1/4" dice instead of 1/2". Also, I will reduce the milk to 1 1/2 cups, because there was just a little too much liquid in the end product. Overall, it was a really good recipe, and one I will make again with these minor tweaks. Chosen for Pick a Chef Spring 2008.

PanNan April 13, 2008