Tagliatelle Gratinati / Baked Tagliatelle with Ham and Béchamel Sauce

March 26, 2021

This recipe came about as a result of recent and frequent trips to Giudecca Island, which can be easily done from the Zattere water bus stop, which is just a few minutes’ walk from our home.

There are a number of restaurants, osterias and bacari serving local food from the lagoon worth making a special trip for. But whilst passing by Harry’s Dolci eatery (closed at that particular time) a classic dish of baked tagliolini with ham layered with béchamel sauce from Harry’s Bar came into my mind. I’ve stumbled upon this dish on the internet whilst I was doing some random research and I also came across another version of it, where spinach tagliatelle are used instead. An idea which I liked a lot and subsequently adopted it into my take on this baked pasta dish.

I played a little with the quantities of the ingredients adjusting them to my liking (and that of course can be changed to your personal taste) and the final result I am sharing in the recipe below. 

The ham could be replaced with some pancetta, smoked bacon or speck.

The dish lends itself very to well to storing and reheating, therefore I always make a larger portion and we happily finish it off the following day, something that you can’t underestimate the value of during the full on home cooking covid time.

Serves 4:

For the pasta:

  • 250 g of spinach tagliatelle (you can always use plain tagliatelle)
  • 50 g of butter
  • 60-70 g of grated Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese
  • 100 -120 g of smoked cooked ham, cubed or cut into matchsticks
  • some salt
  • a pinch of black pepper

For the béchamel sauce:

  • 20 g of butter
  • 20 g of plain flour
  • 320-350 ml of milk 
  • some grated nutmeg
  • salt to taste

Start with the béchamel sauce:

Melt the butter in a saucepan on a medium heat. Add the flour, stir well and fry the mixture (called roux) for a couple of minutes stirring all the time. The aim is to cook the flour a bit before adding the milk. It will be easier to digest and it will release some nutty notes.

Start gradually pouring in the milk (while stirring all the time). Little by little making sure that you have incorporated it very well with a wooden spoon or a whisk to the roux before adding more milk. This way you will avoid having undesirable lumps in the sauce. 

Lower the heat down a bit and cook the béchamel stirring slowly until the sauce starts to thicken and bubble gently. Whilst cooking season your sauce with a few pinches of grated nutmeg and enough salt to offset the sweetness of the milk.

Set aside and keep warm.

Heat the oven to 180 C grill .

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, add the tagliatelle and cook until al dente, a minute less than indicated on the packaging. 

In the meantime melt about 25 g of butter in a large pan. Add the chopped ham and fry gently for about a minute or so.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain it in a colander and add it to the pan with the ham. Sprinkle everything with half the quantity of the Parmesan cheese, season with a pinch of salt and black pepper and toss well.

Move your pasta into an ovenproof baking dish spreading it evenly. Pour over the béchamel sauce and sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese all over. Cut the 25 g of butter into small pieces and dot it over the top. 

Place the dish at the top of the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, until the sauce starts to bubble and turns crispy golden.