Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mediterranean-Inspired Mac and Cheese

Total Time: about 30 minutes
Serves 6-8

1 lb dried macaroni elbows
4 oz feta, crumbled
1 small red onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
12 oz canned tuna, packed in olive oil, drained
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp mustard powder
3 C skim milk
1 C half-and-half or cream
1/4 C basil leaves, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tsp chopped oregano
1 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more for pasta water
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta and season generously with salt. Cook the elbows until just al dente. Drain and keep warm while you make the sauce.

In the pasta pot, melt the butter over medium high heat and add the garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the red onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour and cook, stirring frequently, until the flour has darkened. Add the milk slowly, whisking constantly so that the sauce won't become lumpy. Add the cream, mustard powder, and teaspoon of salt. Cook until the sauce has thickened, stirring frequently. The sauce should be thick enough to coat a wooden spoon. Add the feta, black pepper, oregano, red pepper flakes, and almost all of the basil (save a bit for a garnish). Stir until all of the cheese has melted, then taste for seasonings.

Add the pasta back to the pot, toss in the tuna, and stir together. Divide between bowls and garnish with the reserved basil leaves.

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