goat cheese pesto mac-n-cheese
Part 1 of our Rethinking Pasta segment begins with Trader Joe's Gluten Free Organic Brown Rice Penne Pasta.
Goat cheese over the past 2 years has been a staple in the VerMac household. Essentially lactose free (like sheep's milk), it's kind to my tummy and my soul.
While this recipe takes a bit of time, it's relatively low maintenance otherwise so don't let the cooking time intimidate you. It's a great recipe for you and your roomies or SO to make together, split up the steps between the two of you and bond over the cheesy pesto goodness.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for baking dish (your fav vo butter works too)
1 cup Parmesan
1 pound organic brown rice penne pasta
2 cups half-and-half (*see substitutions for a dairy free sub fit for this mac)
16 ounces goat cheese
1/2 cup pesto sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
- Prep a baking dish by greasing it with butter. The dish should be about 2 quarts-a large glass Pyrex or oven-safe dish works best. Place an oven rack on the top notch then pre heat your broiler.
*note: if your broiler heats quickly, begin preheating when you're stirring the cheese into the pasta (step 3).
- Put a large pot over high heat and bring salted water to a boil. Follow the instructions on your bag of pasta to cook. Save 1/4 cup of the pasta water when you drain it.
*note: Gluten free pastas are persnickety, they like to be cooked perfectly, so following the brand-specific directions is important - plus I think you know how to cook pasta.
- While the pasta is cooking, in a small pot over low heat, bring the half & half (or substitute) to a simmer. Stir frequently and keep an eye on the half & half. It will thicken slightly.
- Add goat cheese and whisk until a smooth and silky cheese sauce. Add 3/4 cup Parmesan and whisk until combined.
- While the broiler heats up, stir in the cooked pasta, coating each noodle with yummy cheese. Stir in the pesto, reserved 1/4 cup cooking water, salt, and pepper. Season with additional salt and freshly ground black pepper, if needed.
- Pour the cheesy noodles into a buttered baking dish and top with remaining parmesan. Place under broiler until the mixture bubbles and the top is browned, about 4 minutes. Remove from the broiler. Let it cool down before serving, 5 minutes should do it.