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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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