February 16, 2010
I got the idea to make this "Fancy Mac and Cheese" over a month ago, but have not found the time to make it since then. But alas, I was in the mood to cook dinner tonight, and this was really one of only a few things I had the food to make. This was also my first time making bechamel/cheese sauce, and I must say (even though, I'm not sure I did it right) it wasn't nearly as scary as I thought it would be, thanks to the basic recipe I followed. I had also bought a very interesting cheese called Mediterranean Jack, it had olives, basil, garlic, and sun-dried tomatoes in it; this very flavorful cheese combined with a little of my homemade pesto was a great cheesy combination.
1.5-2 TBSP Butter
1.5-2 TBSP Flour
1.5-2 Cups Milk (I did a combo of Skim Milk and Half and Half, it's what I had)
~2 TBSP Homemade Pesto
Cheese: Mediterranean Jack and Shredded Pizza Blend
Cooked, chopped Spinach
2/3 lb cooked pasta (I used Mezze Penne)
Breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan
Optional: Sundried Tomato Garnish
Melt butter in a small saucepan, add flour and whisk together and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add Milk and S+P and cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes until sauce bubbles and thickens at least a little (mine didn't thicken very much). Stir in the pesto then add cheese gradually and whisk in to melt, add as much cheese as you want until it looks and tastes like you want it to. Mix in the spinach then mix in with pasta. I felt like I had more sauce than pasta so I added sauce to pasta in smallish increments; if you feel you have more pasta than sauce add pasta to sauce bit by bit. This is all very subjective, your food should look and taste like YOU want it to. Put sauced pasta into a baking dish and top with breadcrumbs and parmesan (and a little melted butter if you want to go even more decadent), bake for 10-20 min at 350 degrees F until lightly browned.
Also, I made this for dinner last night, just without the arugula. It was amazing and I can't wait to make it again. Here is my less pretty picture.