Mac 'n' Cheese with Winter Pesto

Aired March 9, 2011

Serves Serves 4

1 pound orecchiette (little ears) or other small pasta shape
For the Winter Pesto:
1 loosely packed cup each: parsley (grassy), arugula (spicy), basil (sweet)
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
3 to 4 cloves garlic, pasted or minced
About 1/3 cup EVOO Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
For the Sauce:
3 tablespoons butter
2 rounded tablespoons flour
2 1/2 cups milk
Salt and pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
1/2 pound Italian Fontina cheese, such as Fontina Val dAosta
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano




Preheat oven to 400F.



In large pot of salted, boiling water, dump pasta and undercook by 2 minutes. Drain and reserve.



Pulse-grind the ingredients for the pesto sauce in a food processor or hand grind them in a large mortar and pestle.



Melt butter in a saucepot over medium heat. Whisk in flour, cook 1 minute, then whisk in milk. Season sauce with salt, pepper and a little freshly grated nutmeg, simmer at a low bubble and thicken to coat the back of a spoon. Adjust seasoning to taste. Stir in Fontina and melt, reserving a handful to top casserole.



Combine pesto, white sauce and pasta in a large mixing bowl. Adjust seasonings and place in a casserole dish, top with remaining Fontina and Parm, and bake 30-40 minutes until brown and bubbly on top.







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