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Mac 'n' Cheese with Winter Pesto

Serves 4

Originally aired

INGREDIENTS
  • 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
PREPARATION

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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