This recipe is quick and satisfying. Think boxed mac and cheese, but even better. The simple combination of salty, starchy pasta water, a little butter, and your favorite semi-firm cheese (we used goat gouda) yields a creamy, savory, highly addictive sauce. —Josh Cohen
pasta (we used small shells, but you can use any short shape)
grated semi-soft cheese (we used goat gouda but you can use anything that melts easily)
In This Recipe
Set a large pot of water over high heat. When the water is boiling, add salt so that the water tastes like a highly seasoned soup broth. Add the pasta and cook for 1 to 2 minutes shorter than directed on the box (it will keep cooking in the sauce). Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water.
Strain the pasta, and return it to the pot. Add the butter and the reserved pasta cooking water. Cook on high heat, stirring regularly, until the pasta cooking water is simmering. When the pasta cooking water has reduced by about half, remove the pot from the heat and add the cheese. Stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes, until the cheese has fully melted and incorporated with the pasta water and butter to create an emulsified sauce. Taste and season with salt as necessary. Serve immediately.