By Mary Sue Milliken, Susan Feniger, Helene Siegel, Cesare Casella, Jack Bishop, Tom Lacalamita, Heather Dismore, Martin Yan, Dede Wilson, Joan H. Moravek, Kristin Eddy

You can use this creamy white sauce as a binder in many baked pasta dishes. When making this sauce, you must whisk constantly to prevent the formation of lumps.

Bechamel sauce in a cooking pan.
Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/vikif

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 9 minutes

Yield: 1 quart

8 tablespoons butter

1⁄2 cup flour

1 quart warm milk

Pinch of ground nutmeg

Salt and white pepper to taste

  1. In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook, stirring, over low heat for 4 minutes.

  2. Increase the heat to medium and gradually add the milk, stirring constantly with a whisk.

  3. Continue whisking the sauce as it gently boils, about 5 minutes. Add the nutmeg and salt and pepper. Stir well and remove from heat.

  4. Use immediately or store in a bowl with plastic wrap touching the surface of the béchamel so that a skin doesn’t form on top.

    Store, refrigerated, for up to 2 days.