Herby Green Mac & Cheese
I love hosting a good dinner party. Recently, two of our good friends got engaged…to each other! I know, pretty convenient. We hosted them over for dinner to celebrate and the occasion called for a little decadence. I roasted a chicken (which you know I love to do), made a refreshing, crunchy vegetable salad from Bon Appetit, and made a yummy green mac and cheese.
Yeah, I said green! I made a super easy pesto with a whole bunch of fresh spinach (stems and all), fresh parsley, and fresh basil. There is no pretending that a celebration mac and cheese didn’t have a ton of cheese but it did also have a ton of greens, so it actually didn’t feel terribly heavy. I took a lot of inspiration for this recipe from Vice’s Farideh Sadeghin and I made it with Banza’s chickpea flour pasta shells. The very nice people at Banza sent me a few different pastas to try and I have to say, they stood up to the task! I overcooked them a little bit but mac and cheese is a meant to be a little mushy, so it worked out well. Just read the instructions on the box and follow them because they don’t cook the same way that regular pasta does.
Herby Green Mac & Cheese
8 oz box of shells or elbow pasta
8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 oz shredded mild cheddar cheese
1 to 1.5 cup milk, divided
4 tbsp flour
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 bunch spinach
1 cup Italian parsley
1 cup basil
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup walnuts or 1/3 cup pine nuts
salt and pepper to taste
Start by making the pesto. In a food processor, process the spinach, parsley, basil, walnuts, garlic clove, half a cup milk, and some salt and pepper. Set aside.
Start the pasta. Follow the instructions on the box and make the pasta. While the pasta is cooking, work on the sauce.
Make a bechemel sauce aka a blonde roux. In a pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and mix constantly, until the flour starts bubbling, usually a few minutes. Make sure this doesn’t cook too much and brown. Then pour 1/2 cup of milk and mix well constantly. Lower the heat a little bit and add all but 1/2 cup of all the shredded cheese and mix well until cheese has melted. If the mixture is too thick, pour in a little bit of milk to help the cheese melt and turn into a white sauce. (Be careful here: the pesto also has liquid. I added too much milk during the bechemel process and once I added the pesto, it was more watery than I intended). Season with pepper and salt to taste.
Then add the pesto to the pot and mix well. Lastly, drain the pasta and mix that in well into the pesto and bechemel mixture.
Move the rack to the top most rack in the oven. Turn on your oven broiler on high. Pour the pasta into a 9x13 baking dish. Scatter the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese on top. Place the baking dish under the broiler and cook for 5 mins. Remove the dish and turn off your oven. Eat this asap.