Macaroni and Cheese Primavera
Rach lightens and brightens up this mac and cheese with chicken broth, tarragon and fresh veggies. "Use 3-4 cups of fresh baby vegetables or a vegetable medley, very thinly sliced and quickly sautéed until tender-crisp. My ingredient list below is just a guideline. You can use any mix of vegetables you like." –RR
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 5-6 baby carrots, tops trimmed, peeled and very thinly sliced on an angle
- 5-6 baby zucchini or a few baby zucchini and patty pan squash, thinly sliced
- 2-3 baby fennel, tops trimmed and bulbs halved lengthwise, then very thinly sliced
- 3-4 green Vidalia onions, fat spring onions or 2 leeks, whites and light greens halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
- A fat handful of snap peas, thinly sliced on an angle or shelled fresh peas or defrosted peas
- 1/4 cup garlic scapes, chopped, or 2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- Salt and pepper
- 1 lemon wedge
- 1/4 cup tarragon leaves, coarsely chopped
For the cheese sauce and mac:
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 2 cups warm milk
- Salt and pepper
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 cups grated Fontina Val d’Aosta or Gruyère cheese
- 1 cup grated Asiago cheese
- 1 pound macaroni with lines, such as cavatappi (hollow, corkscrew pasta) or penne rigate
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta.
- Heat a large skillet with the olive oil, two turns of the pan, over medium to medium-high heat. Add the vegetables and scapes or garlic and season with salt and pepper. Sauté to tender-crisp, 5 minutes or so. Turn off the heat; douse with the lemon juice and add the tarragon.
- In a medium size high-sided skillet or pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute; whisk in the chicken stock and thicken for 1-2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the warm milk and season the sauce with salt, pepper and nutmeg, to taste. Thicken to lightly coat the back of a spoon. Stir in the Fontina or Gruyère and Asiago in a figure-eight motion, a handful at a time, using a wooden spoon.
- Undercook the pasta by 2-3 minutes in salted boiling water, 6-7 minutes, according to the package directions. Drain the pasta and add back to the pot with the cheese sauce and vegetables. Stir to combine, then adjust the salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer to a casserole and cover with the Parm. Bake to brown and bubbly, 20-25 minutes.