This week I’ve been visiting my old hood in Venice, California, where the air has been clear (surprise, no smog at the beach folks!), the sand and surf has beckoned every. single. day. and I’ve woken up each morning to the kiss of the ocean breeze coming my bedroom’s french doors.
I think I’ve finally hit my stride of relaxation and I’m lapping it up as much as I can.
Before I left for vacation I was asked to make you a summertime macaroni and cheese in honor of today being, drumroll please, National Macaroni and Cheese Day!
I’ve always been a HUGE mac and cheese fan, ever since I was little when my mom and dad would go out for a little adult time and leave me and my sister to our own devices. I’d pull out a box of mac and cheese and quickly became the master of its domain, usually serving it gussied up with sliced, boiled hot dogs in the mix.
I’m telling you friends, I was gourmet from the start.
I’ve always loved the stove top version of mac and cheese thanks to it’s velvety texture, and I must say, I still think it’s my favorite way to eat it. I’ve now mastered a version where no boxed-from-the-store variety is required. You may think it intimidating to make the homemade version, but honestly, it takes no more time than that from the box and is truly simple to do.
I brought back some lovely Carr Valley Cheese from my recent trip to Madison, WI where I met and toured around with it’s owner Sid Cook, the most awarded cheese maker in the world. Yes, I said IN THE WORLD!
Knowing I would be wanting to stock up on cheese for mac and cheese I asked which two he recommended for delicious meltability.
Gouda and Fontina were tops on his list, so they quickly climbed to mine. I’m telling you, after the first bite, I agreed that the man knows his cheeses.
About the recipe
I used shell pasta for this recipe because I like how the nuggets of corn and tomato get all up in the crevices of the noodle. Not to mention the lush cheese sauce. A penne, short tube or spiral noodle would work pretty well too.
Making a roux out of melted butter and flour starts this velvety base. I’ve cooked my roux in a variety of ways to avoid clumps but the secret I’ve found for a clump free “gravy” base is to use cold milk and dump it in all at once, then whisk away. No clumps and the perfect thickening as it cooks.
I used a leftover cob of corn from dinner the night before, but if you’d like, frozen corn kernels would work just fine. Thawed of course.
I used an aged gouda and a smoked fontina for my mac and cheese. The smoked cheese added a nice earthy touch to the recipe, but if you’re having a hard time finding it, substitute regular fontina instead.
Remember to add your cheese and stir it in once you’ve pulled the sauce OFF of the heat. This helps avoid the sauce becoming gluey and too thick.
Get the recipe for my Stovetop Pesto Macaroni and Cheese with Corn and Sun-Dried Tomatoes here.
- 3 cups large shell pasta, uncooked (6 cups cooked)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups milk
- ½ cup prepared pesto
- 1 cup (4 ounces) Wisconsin smoked fontina cheese, shredded
- 1 cup (4 ounces) Wisconsin aged gouda cheese, shredded
- ⅓ cup sun-dried tomatoes, slivered
- ¾ cup sweet corn, cooked
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- fresh basil, chopped, for garnish
- fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
- Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions, minus 2 minutes of cooking time. Drain and set aside.
- While pasta is cooking, make cheese sauce. Over medium high heat, melt butter in large sauce pan and whisk in flour. Cook while whisking for about 2 minutes. Add milk and whisk continuously to avoid any clumps. Cook until mixture thickens and begins to bubble, stirring often. Remove from heat and stir in pesto, then add cheeses. Add corn and sun-dried tomatoes. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with herbs. Serve immediately.
This post is in partnership with Wisconsin Cheese. As always, thank you for reading and supporting companies I partner with, which allows me to create more unique content and recipes for you. This post may contain affiliate links. As always, all opinions are my own.