Monday, January 31, 2011

Fontina, Mushroom and Prosciutto Shells & Cheese

One of my favorite foods in the world is macaroni and cheese.  I mean, come on:  it's pasta baked in a cheesy sauce.  What's not to love?  While I have a classic recipe that I make quite often (and really should share with you guys), I always think it's fun to experiment with different cheeses and flavor profiles.

This particular creation actually started out as a lasagna recipe, but I adapted it to make mac and cheese instead.  I just wasn't feeling lasagna for some reason, so I turned it into a simple baked pasta dish - sauteed mushrooms, garlic, and onions, added herbs and prosciutto, then tossed with a cheesy bechamel sauce and pasta. What's more, it uses one of my favorite cheese ever, fontina!  I love the smooth, nutty flavor, and it really melts beautifully.

Overall, this was a really great twist on macaroni and cheese.  My sister called it "fancy," but I call it comforting and delicious.  And that's really with mac and cheese is all about, right?

More Fontina Goodness:
Baked Fontina

Fontina and Herb Stuffed Chicken
Swiss Chard and Sweet Pea Manicotti
Fontina-Stuffed Meatball Kabobs
Fontina Shells and Cheese
White Pizzas with Arugula

Macaroni and Cheese with Mushrooms, Fontina and Prosciutto
inspired by Williams-Sonoma

Breadcrumb Topping:
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tbs butter, melted
  • 2 Tbs shredded parmesan 
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 12 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 leek, halved, white and light green parts sliced
  • 4 oz prosciutto, chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary
  • 3 Tbs fresh basil
  • 1 Tbs fresh parsley
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 lb pasta shapes
  • 6 Tbs butter
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2 1/2 cups milk (low-fat is fine)
  • 1/3 cup marsala wine
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 2 cups shredded fontina
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Toss the breadcrumbs with the melted butter and spread on a baking sheet.  Bake 5-10 minutes, stirring often, until golden-brown.  Allow to cool, then mix in the Parmesan and season with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and leek, and cook, stirring often, until golden, about 5-8 minutes.  Add the prosciutto, thyme, rosemary, basil, parsley and garlic.  Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta to al dente, about 8 minutes.  Drain pasta and wipe out saucepan.

Melt the butter in the saucepan.  Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes.  Slowly whisk in the broth and milk.  Bring the mixture to a heavy simmer (almost to a boil), whisking often, until thickened, 10-12 minutes.  Stir in the marsala and nutmeg, and season with salt and pepper. 

Remove from heat and stir in the fontina and Parmesan cheeses, stirring until the cheese has melted.  Fold in the mushroom-herb mixture and the pasta.  Spread the mixture into a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking dish, and sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top.

Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly.  Allow to rest 5-10 minutes before serving.


Lauren said...

This looks great. I love grown up mac and cheese, actually love any mac and cheese (within reason).

Courtney said...

This looks so delicious! No matter how many mac and cheese recipes I try, I can always try more. That's the glory of it, I guess. :) Can't wait to make this one!

Unknown said...

You had me at sauteed mushrooms, garlic and onions - this looks great!

Lizz said...

Yum- this sounds great! I hope you will post your "classic" mac and cheese recipe very soon, too!

Joanne said...

I'm in the midst of a little "alternative/out-of-the-ordinary" mac and cheese craze myself and so this really and truly sounds perfect!

Sara said...

Everything about this is wonderful. I, too, love fontina, especially on a pizza, but I certainly wouldn't mind it covering a plate of pasta, either! Thanks for the inspiration.

Anonymous said...

You took a beautiful picture!

Eliana said...

Sign me up for any cheesy pasta dish. This looks awesome.

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