Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ricotta Cheddar Mac and Cheese with Caramelized Onions and Tomatoes

Real food alert!

Yesterday I mentioned that I made mac and cheese for my house dinner. I had a lot of dairy in my fridge, so milky cheesy creamy pasta was the obvious solution.

I invented the following recipe, and it turned out quite well! I don’t know why I haven’t added ricotta to mac and cheese before – it made it extra creamy and delicious. It’s super simple and you don’t need to add the extras if you don’t want them (though I have a hard time comprehending not wanting caramelized onions and tomatoes).

Ricotta Cheddar Mac and Cheese with Caramelized Onions and Tomatoes

Caramelized Onions
4 yellow onions
1 tablespoon olive oil
1. Peel and thinly slice the onions.
2. Add oil to a heavy bottomed sauté pan and heat until the oil is shimmering.
3. Turn the heat to medium-low. Add the onion slices and stir to coat the onions with the oil. Spread the onions out evenly over the pan and let cook, stirring occasionally. After 10 minutes, sprinkle some salt over the onions.
4. Let cook for 30 minutes to an hour more, stirring every few minutes. As soon as the onions start sticking to the pan, let them stick a little and brown, but then stir them before they burn. The trick is to let them alone enough to brown (if you stir them too often, they won't brown), but not so long so that they burn.

You can cook the onions in advance. If you do, cool and store them in the fridge.

Mac and Cheese
½ lb pasta
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
12 oz ricotta cheese
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (reserve ½ cup for sprinkling over the top)
5 large tomatoes, sliced

Preheat oven to 375*.
1. Prepare pasta al dente according to box directions.
2. While the pasta is cooking: In a medium sized pot, melt butter. Add flour and wisk for 1 minute over medium heat to make a roux.
3. Wisk in 1 cup milk and heat. Add the second cup milk, salt, nutmeg, pepper, and heat until just before it simmers.
4. Add ricotta and cheddar cheese and stir on the stove for 1 minute. Remove from heat.
5. Mix pasta and sauce and pour into a 9x13 baking dish.
6. Spread caramelized onions over the mac and cheese, and top with tomato slices. Sprinkle with reserved cheese.
7. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until top begins to brown. If you want a crispier top, turn on the broiler for last couple minutes of cooking.

Enjoy! And I strongly suggest you chase your mac and cheese with a slice of Zingy Orange Ginger Cake!