Indulgent necessities

Buttery béchamel is essential for your more decadent meals

Béchamel is my indulgence. It makes my knees weak. I could, without trace of a second thought, eat a bowl of it. Considered one of the “mother sauces” but more commonly known as white sauce, béchamel is vital to a number of recipes: as a base for cheese sauces, as a component of lasagnas, the sauce for gratins, or as a basis for many pasta dishes. But please, proceed to the recipes lest I admit to any more embarrassing vices.

Béchamel Sauce


  • 4 tablespoons butter (can be replaced with oil in dire circumstances)
  • 4 tablespoons flour (not whole wheat)
  • Vegetables (see each variation at left)
  • Approximately 2 cups milk (a thinner sauce will require more milk)

Salt, pepper, and nutmeg (optional, but for me, vital)


Enough for most recipes


Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the flour and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring, until it becomes a paste and begins to bubble slightly.

Add the milk, half at a time, stirring constantly between additions. Continue to stir vigorously until the sauce thickens visibly (takes just a few minutes).

Once thick and bubbling, remove it from the heat, add at least one teaspoon of salt, some pepper and a quarter teaspoon of nutmeg (if desired).