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Mac Attack! Goat Cheese and Pesto

You love pesto, I love pesto! I have to admit I was giddy when I found a recipe that combines the comfort of mac and cheese with pesto. It also uses another one of my favorites, goat cheese. Since I had already eaten a lot of elbow macaroni, I picked up a box of orecchiette. They are said to be shaped like small ears, but I think they look more like little bowls; a perfect vessel to fill with sauce!

The combination of goat cheese, Parmesan, and pesto is insanely creamy. For a great crunch and texture, the mac and cheese is topped with panko. Rather than make a big pan, I cooked it in easy-to-serve individual ramekins. With a little planning this recipe won't take much longer than a box of Kraft — except it's a million times more rewarding. If you want to wow your friends and family with scrumptious mac and cheese, keep reading!

Pesto and Goat Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

Pesto and Goat Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

Pesto and Goat Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for baking dish
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped basil leaves
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 3/4 cups Parmesan
1 pound Orecchiette
2 cups heavy cream
16 ounces goat cheese
1/2 cup pesto sauce, store-bought or home-made, more to taste if desired
1-1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, add to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Butter a 2 quart baking dish or ramekins. Preheat the broiler and arrange a rack on top.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in medium bowl in the microwave. Add the garlic, basil, panko, and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan to the melted butter. Mix well and reserve.
  3. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions.
  4. Meanwhile, put the cream in a small pot and bring to a simmer over low heat. Simmer until reduced and slightly thickened, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  5. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water and drain the pasta. Put the large pot over low heat and add the warmed cream. When it simmers, add the goat cheese and whisk until smooth. Add in the remaining Parmesan and whisk until melted.
  6. Add the pasta and stir to coat. Stir in the pesto, reserved cooking water*, if needed, salt, and pepper. Season with additional salt and freshly ground black pepper, if needed.
  7. Pour the pasta mixture into the buttered baking dish and top with the panko mixture. Put under the broiler until the mixture bubbles and the top is browned, about 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from the broiler and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

*My sauce was plenty thick and did not require any reserved cooking water.
Serves 8-10.


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Join The Conversation
Red-Head Red-Head 5 years
YUM .. looks so good!!!
AmberHoney AmberHoney 5 years
Somehow I missed this in '09, not a problem cause it will be devoured in a few days! :drool:
drogers drogers 6 years
I just made this, and it is quite possibly one of the richest things I've ever eaten. In a good way.
Mel475 Mel475 6 years
I made this for dinner last night - so yummy! I halved the recipe (just my hubby, a 4 year old and me, added grilled chicken to turn it into the main course and served with a salad. My hubby and son loved it! Very quick and delicious! Thanks Yum!!!
sham28 sham28 6 years
These are all of the things I love. God bless you.
Food Food 6 years
Great tip astello, the original recipe did call for half and half but I had cream on hand already! No reason to let the cream spoil! Verily this is 8-10 hefty servings, so I think if you cut the recipe in half you will still be very satisfied!
verily verily 6 years
Both are good ideas. I didn't realize the servings were 8-10! That is a lot of mac and cheese. :)
astello astello 6 years
the original recipe on food network's website calls for half-and-half instead of heavy cream. 1 tbsp of heavy cream = 50 cal, while 1 tbsp of half-and-half = 20 cal. so there's a healthier alternative for ya. :)
Food Food 6 years
Hey Everyone-I bought my chevre goat cheese at Trader Joe's. I think it was just about $5.00 for 11 ounces. You might want to see if there is one in your neighborhood! Also, you can cut the recipe in 1/2 because the one above makes a whole lot of mac and cheese! Hope this helps!
verily verily 6 years
Agreed. $4 for 4 oz...that's $16 for a side dish. Sounds as pricey as Martha Stewart's version of crack n cheese. Perhaps cream cheese can sub in for half of that.
AbbyHintz AbbyHintz 6 years
Overeating is bad for you. Heavy cream, a little anyway, is not necessarily bad. This is supposed to make 8-10 servings, so eat accordingly.
nancita nancita 6 years
Not only do I love pesto, but I love the idea of it in mac and cheese. This looks outstanding. Thanks!
adris10 adris10 6 years
Ah! You just made me unbearably hungry. Yum.
snarkypants snarkypants 6 years
want. this. NOW.
redchick152 redchick152 6 years
i just drooled all over my keypad..thanks yum!!!
mamasitamalita mamasitamalita 6 years
omgggg. this is everything that is good in the world in one dish.
Mel475 Mel475 6 years
I am so going to make this for dinner this week! Yummy!
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