One of my favorite versions of macaroni and cheese in San Francisco is made by Solstice, a restaurant and bar in my neighborhood. One taste of the creamy, steamy, slightly sharp mac — which is foiled by tart green apples and toasted walnuts — and all of the day's problems have vanished.
Since I've enjoyed it so many times at the restaurant, I took a stab at recreating it in my own kitchen. My attempt wasn't too bad, although I decided next time I'll make a few variations to the béchamel, which are noted below. Curious to see how I made it? Find out after the break.
1 cup walnuts
1 pound elbow macaroni
3 cups bechamel sauce*
8 ounces gorgonzola cheese, crumbled or finely chopped
10 ounces grated jack cheese
2-3 Granny Smith apples
- Preheat oven to 350ºF.
- Place the walnuts in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 7 minutes. Once cool and hard, finely chop in the food processor to a fine dust. Set aside.
- Cook macaroni in a large pot of boiling salted water until pasta is tender but not quite cooked through, about 6 minutes. Drain; transfer to very large bowl.
- Prepare béchamel or, if made ahead, reheat. Add gorgonzola and jack cheeses and stir until combined and the sauce is smooth. Fold in the cooked pasta.
- Mound mixture into 13x9x2-inch baking dish, or 10 individual 6-ounce ramekins. Bake at 350ºF until hot and bubbly, about 20-25 minutes.
- Just before serving, dice green apples. Top macaroni and cheese with walnut dust, then garnish with a mound of freshly diced apples. Serve immediately.
*Recommended for an ultracreamy consistency: Modify the béchamel by using cream instead of milk, and reducing the flour by 2 tablespoons.
- Pasta, Main Dishes
- North American