Mac and Cheese Primavera

Adapted from MacDaddy’s Macaroni & Cheese Bar, Monroe, CT

MacDaddy’s opened in 2011, and the owner, Robert Dunn, plans to turn this innovative concept into a franchise in the next few years. His chef, Kevin Larabee, comes up with concepts like this that join many colors and textures of vegetables.

Recipe reprinted with permission from MAC & CHEESE by Ellen Brown, Running Press, 2012

Mac and Cheese Primavera

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    Ingredients

    1/2 pound macaroni 1/2 cup sliced cooked asparagus
    1/4 cup unsalted butter 1/4 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
    2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1/4 cup chopped cooked artichoke hearts
    2 cups whole milk, warmed 1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained
    4 ounces fontina, grated Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

    directions

    Total:
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    • 1

      Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the pasta until it is al dente.

    • 2

      Drain the pasta, run it under cold water, and return it to the pot.

    • 3

      Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute, or until the mixture turns slightly beige, is bubbly, and appears to have grown in volume. Increase the heat to medium, and slowly whisk in the warm milk. Bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer the sauce for 2 minutes.

    • 4

      Add the cheese to the sauce by 1/2-cup measures, stirring until the cheese melts before making another addition. Stir the asparagus, spinach, artichoke hearts, and sun-dried tomatoes into the sauce. Add the sauce to the pasta, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook over low heat until the pasta is hot and coated with the sauce. Serve immediately.

    notes

    1. Note: The sauce can be prepared up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated. Bring it to a simmer over low heat. Do not cook the pasta until just prior to serving.
    2. There is a variety of veggies added to this dish, and the only one that’s really essential to the flavor is the sun-dried tomatoes. For the spinach and artichoke hearts, my suggestion is to shop the salad bar at the supermarket rather than ending up with lots of leftovers. And you can always substitute leftover green beans or any other vegetable for the asparagus.

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