Saturday, August 6, 2011

Pesto & Bruschetta Mac'N'Cheese

I had a craving for mac'n'cheese and for some reason I wanted to switch it up, try something different than my usual delicious mac'n'cheese. I still had some pesto sauce leftover from last week and so I knew I had to incorporate that basil theme into my mac'n'cheese. Plus, my friend recently gave me tons of fresh tomatoes from her garden and so I had to make myself some Bruschetta, which got me to thinking how great of an idea it would be to make a mac'n'cheese topped with fresh Bruschetta, yummm!!!! And so here is my creation. It was absolutely delicious. I highly recommend it.

Servings: 6

5 cups uncooked pasta
2 Tbsp butter
3 cups milk
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp hot water
3 1/2 cups cheese (2 cups Mozzarella, 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan)
3 Tbsp pesto sauce
2 tsp each of garlic powder, dried basil (or minced basil leaves), garlic salt

2 cups bread crumbs (I used Panko breadcrumbs since they are crunchier)
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic salt
1 Tbsp dried basil (or minced basil leaves)
1 Tbsp Mozzarella cheese
1 tsp Parmesan cheese

Balsamic vinegar reduction sauce:
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp white sugar (optional)

2 cups prepared Bruschetta

1. Cook pasta , drain and set aside. If you need to prepare Bruschetta, do so now so that it has time to chill.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
3. In a dutch oven, heat the milk and butter together until almost bubbling, stirring constantly with a whisk.
4. In a separate bowl, mix the cornstarch and water together until not lumpy, then pour into milk mixture. Stir constantly with a whisk until thickened.
5. Add cheese and pesto sauce and stir to melt. Add all spices. Combine together well.
6. Stir pasta into cheese sauce mixture until fully coated.
7. In a separate bowl, mix the bread crumbs, olive oil, spices, and cheese together. Sprinkle on top of cheese covered pasta.
8. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes until warm and bubbly.
9. Meanwhile, prepare balsamic reduction sauce. Pour the balsamic vinegar into a pan. Heat the pan to high heat, whisk balsamic briskly. Once it comes to a boil, start whisking constantly to prevent burning. The vinegar naturally sweetens when reduced, but if you like a sweet reduction, sprinkle in sugar now. Continue whisking until balsamic reduces by half, or until the balsamic takes on a syrupy quality. Set aside and allow to cool.

10. Once mac'n'cheese is removed from the oven. Spoon out serving onto a plate, sprinkle with the balsamic vinegar reduction sauce and top with a couple spoonfuls of Bruschetta. Enjoy!

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