I’m always on the lookout for great mac and cheese variations. There are so many combos you can make with pasta and cheese and I love them all. Luckily Mike loves them too. It’s funny because before me he used to be allergic to cheese–not crazy stop breathing allergic, but definitely break out in hives allergic. After we started going out his allergy disappeared and I like to think that I was the cure. Whatever the reason, I’m happy that we’re a cheese eating family.
This mac and cheese is a riff on the classic combo of peas and mint. The creamy, cheesy sauce is lighted up with lots of chopped arugula and mint and lemon zest adds a refreshing note that contrasts the richness of the ricotta. I especially love the bits of rigatoni that get crunchy when baked. I’m totally going to have to create a dish with pasta that’s all crunchy all the time.
Rigatoni and Cheese Recipe adapted from bonappetit.com
generously feeds 2 plus extra for leftovers
- 2 tablespoons butter plus more for pan
- 1/6 cup plus 3/4 cups grated parmesan, divided
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup shredded Fontina cheese
- 1 egg
- 1/2 pound rigatoni
- 1/2 cup frozen peas, defrosted
- 1 cup coarsely chopped arugula
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped mint
- 1/2 cup ricotta
- zest of half a lemon
Heat the oven to 375°F. Butter a pan and dust with 1/6 cup parmesan. In a sauce pan over medium heat melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk for 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk and bring to a simmer. Whisk often and reduce heat to medium. Cook until sauce is thickened, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in Fontina, parmesan and egg. whisk to blend. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm.
Cook pasta until almost al dente. Transfer the pasta to a large bowl and add peas, stir in sauce, arugula, parsley and mint. Mix throughly. Transfer half of the pasta to the pan and top with ricotta and lemon zest. Top remaining pasta. Sprinkle with parmesan and bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. Let rest and sprinkle with remaining parsley and mint. Enjoy!
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