Italian > Pasta

Pesto Mac and Cheese Recipe

Ingredients with Measurements:
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup heavy cream

Special equipment needed:
- Food processor or blender
- Large pot for boiling pasta
- Medium saucepan for making cheese sauce
- Whisk
- 9x13 inch baking dish

Step-by-step instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Cook macaroni according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
3. In a food processor or blender, combine basil, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Pulse until smooth and set aside.
4. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes until mixture is smooth and bubbly.
5. Gradually whisk in milk and continue cooking, whisking constantly, until sauce thickens and comes to a boil.
6. Reduce heat to low and stir in cheddar cheese until melted and smooth.
7. Stir in pesto and heavy cream until well combined.
8. Add cooked macaroni to the sauce and stir until evenly coated.
9. Pour mac and cheese mixture into a 9x13 inch baking dish.
10. Bake for 20-25 minutes until bubbly and golden brown on top.
11. Let cool for a few minutes before serving.

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
5. Temperature:
Serving size:
8 servings

Nutritional information:
Calories: 625
Fat: 43g
Carbohydrates: 41g
Protein: 20g
Sodium: 578mg
Sugar: 5g

Substitutions for ingredients:
- You can use any type of pasta instead of elbow macaroni.
- Walnuts or almonds can be substituted for pine nuts in the pesto.
- You can use any type of cheese instead of cheddar in the cheese sauce.

- Add cooked chicken or shrimp to the mac and cheese for a protein boost.
- Use different herbs in the pesto, such as cilantro or parsley.
- Add roasted red peppers or sun-dried tomatoes to the pesto for extra flavor.
- Use different types of cheese in the sauce, such as Gouda or fontina.

Tips and tricks:
- Reserve some of the pasta cooking water to add to the sauce if it becomes too thick.
- Make the pesto ahead of time and store in the fridge for up to a week.
- Use freshly grated Parmesan cheese for the best flavor.
- Don't overcook the pasta, as it will continue to cook in the oven.

Storage instructions:
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Reheating instructions:
Reheat in the oven at 350°F for 10-15 minutes or in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.

Presentation ideas:
Serve in individual ramekins for a fancy presentation.

Sprinkle with extra Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh herbs.

Serve with a side salad or garlic bread.

Suggested side dishes:
- Caesar salad
- Roasted vegetables
- Garlic bread

Troubleshooting advice:
- If the cheese sauce is too thick, add more milk or pasta cooking water to thin it out.
- If the mac and cheese is too dry, add more heavy cream or milk to the sauce.

Food safety advice:
- Make sure to cook the macaroni until al dente to avoid overcooking.
- Store leftovers in the fridge within 2 hours of cooking.

Food history:
Mac and cheese originated in Italy in the 14th century and was brought to America by Thomas Jefferson.

Flavor profiles:
Creamy, cheesy, and herbaceous.

Serving suggestions:
Serve hot and bubbly straight out of the oven.

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Taste: Creamy, Cheesy, Herby, Savory, Nutty, creamy, cheesy, herbaceous, nutty, savory