Macaroni and Cheese Primavera
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For this dish use 3-4 cups of fresh baby vegetables or a vegetable medley, very thinly sliced and quickly sautéed until tender-crisp. My ingredient list below is just a guideline. You can use any mix of vegetables you like.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 5 to 6 baby carrots, tops trimmed, peeled and very thinly sliced on an angle
- 5 to 6 baby zucchini or a few baby zucchini and patty pan squash, thinly sliced
- 2 to 3 baby fennel, tops trimmed and bulbs halved lengthwise then very thinly sliced
- 3 to 4 green Vidalia onions, fat spring onions or 2 leeks, whites and light greens halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
- A fat handful snap peas, thinly sliced on an angle, shelled fresh peas or defrosted peas
- 1/4 cup garlic scapes, chopped or 2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- Salt and pepper
- 1 wedge of lemon
- 1/4 cup tarragon leaves, coarsely chopped
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 2 cups warm milk
- Salt and pepper
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 cups grated Fontina Val d’Aosta or Gruyère cheese
- 1 cup grated Asiago cheese
- 1 pound macaroni with lines, such as cavatappi (hollow, corkscrew pasta) or penne rigate
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Preheat oven to 350°F. Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta.
Heat large skillet with olive oil, 2 turns of the pan, over medium to medium-high heat. Add vegetables and scapes or garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Sauté to tender-crisp, 5 minutes or so. Turn off heat, douse with lemon juice and add tarragon.
In a medium, high-sided skillet or pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk 1 minute; whisk in chicken stock and thicken 1-2 minutes. Slowly whisk in warm milk and season sauce with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Thicken to lightly coat the back of a spoon. Stir in Fontina or Gruyère and Asiago in a figure-8 motion, a handful at a time, using a wooden spoon.
Undercook pasta by 2-3 minutes in salted boiling water, 6-7 minutes depending on package directions. Drain the pasta and add back to pot with cheese sauce and vegetables. Stir to combine and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to casserole and cover with Parm. Bake to brown and bubbly, 20-25 minutes.