This is not the macaroni and cheese of your childhood. This oven-baked mac and cheese is adult approved, with the addition of homemade pesto, two types of shredded cheese, fragrant prosciutto, and a buttery, golden brown bread crumb topping. It’s a comfort food that’s perfect for fall and winter dinners, as a side dish for your holiday menu, or as a family dinner idea for easy meal prep. Cozy food for a cold evening, ready in under an hour.
For Pesto ½ cup olive oil ½ cup fresh basil leaves ½ cup fresh parsley ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated ¼ cup lightly toasted pine nuts 2 cloves garlic, minced ½ teaspoon sea salt
For Pasta 3 slices prosciutto 8 cups water 1 ½ teaspoon sea salt, divided 12 ounces cavatappi noodles 6 tablespoons unsalted butter ¼ cup all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 2 ½ cups whole milk 1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese 1 cup shredded white cheddar 1 cup Kikkoman® Panko Bread Crumbs
Combine ingredients for pesto in a food processor and blend until well combined. Transfer mixture to a small bowl. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 375ºF and line a small baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay slices of prosciutto on baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet while preparing mac and cheese. Increase oven temperature to 425ºF.
In the meantime, bring 8 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Season water with ½ teaspoon of salt. Add cavatappi noodles and cook for 9-10 minutes until al dente. Drain noodles and set aside in a strainer.
Heat 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a 4-quart Dutch oven until melted. Sprinkle in flour and whisk to combine. Whisk in Dijon mustard and 1 teaspoon of salt. Gradually whisk in milk. Heat for 3 minutes to thicken.
Whisk in shredded Gruyère and cheddar cheese. Fold in noodles and pesto sauce. Turn off heat.
Melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a skillet. Add panko bread crumbs and stir to coat. Sprinkle panko over mac and cheese and bake for 10-12 minutes, until panko is golden brown.
Remove mac and cheese from oven and chop crispy prosciutto into bite size pieces. Sprinkle on top of mac and cheese. Serve hot.