It’s the middle of August and even in Seattle, it is an unusually warm day. And even in the heat, I am still craving macaroni and cheese (at least I am predictable, I suppose). But I need to find a mac and cheese recipe that isn’t too heavy, as if I have to operate my oven I am going to have a mutiny on my hands (can one have a mutiny on land? Must look that up).
Not really expecting much, I search for “summer macaroni cheese recipe” and up pops a promising recipe: Basil Ricotta Macaroni and Cheese from Framed Cooks. Light, fresh, loaded with basil – sounds perfect!
ONE BIG CAVEAT: I did not use fresh ricotta. I just didn’t have it in me to made fresh ricotta on a piping-hot day. As it turned out, I should have taken the time to make fresh ricotta and will do so next time I make this recipe. I did, however, use yummy Kerrygold butter as it really shines in recipes where butter is a featured ingredient.
First, cook your pasta. I used farfalle as that is what I happened to have on hand – that, and I love the way the word “farfalle” rolls off the tongue. I cooked the farfalle until al dente, then drained and set it aside. NOTE: reserve a cup of the pasta water for later. I ALWAYS forget to do this and end up kicking myself just after I pour off all the pasta water down the drain.
While the pasta is cooking, prep your ingredients. Cut the butter into smaller chunks,
and loosely chiffonade the fresh basil.
Melt the butter in the same pot in which you cooked the farfalle. Add the ricotta and stir gently. Add the pasta back to the pot and again, stir gently to combine. Add some of the reserved pasta water (a little at a time) and stir to create a light sauce.
Once everything is combined and happy, it is time to serve it up! Plate your summertime mac & cheese, and dust with seasoned pepper. Top with a nice handful of fresh basil. Easy, right? Perfect for a hot summer evening.
So how was it? Like I mentioned, I should have gone with fresh ricotta. Either that, or perhaps some fresh garlic or shallots – it was a bit bland. Don’t get me wrong, the basil added a nice KAPOW to the flavor, but it was really a singular note. Three elbows up, as I think my own taste buds require some revisions.
Here is my recipe, adapted from Framed Cooks.
- 8 ounces farfalle
- 4 tablespoons Kerrygold butter
- 15 ounces part-skim ricotta (fresh is recommended!)
- 3 tablespoons fresh basil
- Seasoned pepper
- Cook pasta per package directions. Reserve one cup pasta water, then drain and set aside.
- While the pasta is cooking, cut butter into small chunks and chiffonade basil.
- Melt butter in the same pot in which you cooked the pasta. Add ricotta and stir gently.
- Add pasta back to the pot and stir gently to combine. Add some of the reserved pasta water (a little at a time) and stir to create a light sauce.
- Plate mac & cheese; dust with seasoned pepper. Top with fresh basil.
- Serve and scarf down immediately!
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