Since I had so much of the Arugula Pesto I made at the beginning of the week left over, I knew I wanted to find another dish to use it in before I put the remainder of it in the freezer. I came across this recipe and knew it would be perfect. This is a great twist for a classic comfort food dish that everyone will love. The pesto gives it a grown up and sophisticated feel from the normal macaroni and cheese dish. I brought this to Pennsylvania with John and I on Saturday to our friends house to meet their beautiful little baby girl. New parents are always very grateful for already prepared meals, so they can concentrate on their new addition. This was warm and creamy with a bit of a bite from the pesto. Perfect for today's meatless Monday especially since it is raining, cold and gross out here in New Jersey.
16oz Extra Sharp White Cheddar Cheese - Shredded
2 Cups Skim Milk
1/4 Cup Light Cream
1 Box Macaroni Pasta
2 Tbsp I Can't Believe it's Not Butter
2 Tbsp Flour
1/8 Tsp Nutmeg
1/3 Cup Arugula Pesto
Adapted from: www.howsweeteats.com
Start by shredding your cheese using the largest size hole of the grater into a medium sized bowl. Set aside. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Once the water is boiling cook the macaroni according to the package. I picked macaroni because I knew it would be able to hold the cheesy sauce. A similar kind of pasta such as a shell would be fine too. When the pasta is finished cooking drain and return to the pot, set aside.
In a large saucepan over medium heat melt the margarine or butter, whisk in the flour forming a rue. After about 2 minutes the rue will be light brown, whisk in the milk and cream, bring to a boil whisking the whole time. Once its boiling turn the heat down to low and whisk in almost all of the cheese, keeping an ounce or two to sprinkle on top before it is put in the oven. Allow the cheese to melt completely, add the nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Whisking occasionally let the sauce thicken which should take 3-4 minutes.
Pour the entire pan of cheese sauce into the pot with the cooked pasta and stir well to combine. Pour the mac and cheese into a baking dish. Take the arugula pesto and gently stir it into the mac and cheese so it is melted into the entire dish.
Sprinkle the remaining cheddar cheese on top. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. During the last 5 minutes of cooking take the foil off so the cheese can brown a bit. If you are traveling with this dish like we did wait to bake it at your destination which will warm everything back up nicely. Serve it with a green salad to make a complete meal.
Enjoy!! - Nicole