Four Cheese Pasta – Italian Mac & Cheese

Four Cheese Pasta

Macaroni and cheese occupies a special place in the American heart, as the ultimate comfort food.

To tell you the truth, when I moved here from Italy and found out that people were so crazy about this abomination in a box, I thought you guys were all a bit eccentric. Really – why would you want your (processed, powdered) cheese to be orange? Not that it was a big deal: I have my own issues with junk food – namely, digging into the Nutella jar when under pressure.

However, when my children started coming back from school demanding Mac & Cheese, I went from mildly entertained to outraged (after all, I spend hours canning made-from-scratch tomato sauce!). I did try to lecture them about the superiority of fresh ingredients, the importance of vegetables, blah blah blah, but they ignored me. I needed a better strategy. Here is how I gained back my cool factor.

Meet Pasta ai Quattro Formaggi, the Italian ancestor of Mac & Cheese. While it’s probably terrible for you (I can’t imagine another dish that packs in as much butterfat), at least this homemade recipe does not include any chemicals, plus it tastes infinitely better than Kraft’s packaged version. You might still end up needing a bypass, but at least you’ll have enjoyed getting there!

Four Cheese Pasta

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

30 minutes

yield: 6-8

Calories/Fat: ignorance is bliss

Ingredients

  • 1 package (1 lb) rigatoni or penne pasta (I like Garofalo, De Cecco and Barilla)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream + 1/2 cup milk (if you feel too guilty, just 1 cup whole milk)
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese (or a sharp and creamy cheese like Brie, Camembert) shredded or cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup taleggio (or Fontina, Asiago, Gouda), shredded or cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup Swiss cheese, Emmenthal or Gruyere, shredded or cubed
  • 1/3 cup Parmigiano, Grana or Parmigianito, freshly grated, plus more for topping
  • Black pepper

Directions

Bring water to a boil and add salt.

Heat the milk in a saucepan; add cream and the cheeses to the hot milk and stir continuously, until all the cheeses are melted together. If you like living dangerously, you can even add 1 tablespoon butter.

When the water boils, add some coarse salt, add the pasta and cook it until al dente, according to the directions on the box. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water and drain the pasta.

Toss the rigatoni and the cheese sauce together, adding a little of the cooking water (it acts as an emulsifier and thickener); sprinkle with black pepper and serve accompanied by extra parmigiano. Those of you who feel fancy can go with a touch of grated nutmeg, or even shaved truffle! You can also transfer into a baking dish and broil on high until golden and crisp on top (3 to 5 minutes).

(***if you keep strictly kosher, here are some imported kosher cheeses available in the US. The site specifies each cheese's kosher certification, since we often joke that "Two Jews, three opinions" and do not always share the same standards: http://www.kcheese.com/ )

http://dinnerinvenice.com/2013/02/07/four-cheese-pasta-italian-mac-cheese/

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Comments

  1. My kids could really use this “healthier” version of Wacky Mac! Thanks, Allesandra!

  2. My mother always made Mac and Cheese with whatever cheese she had leftover in the fridge, so your recipe sounds familiar and very comforting for me and made me think of my Mom. Thanks.

  3. That looks so incredible!

  4. There is still something comforting about mac and cheese from a box, although it has been at least 5 years since I have had any and I am much turned off by the chemicals now that it has lost its appeal. I would love this dish or any homemade mac and cheese but sadly my family has no interest.

  5. What a beautiful recipe. I have a very special place in my heart for mac n’ cheese! It’s my #1 favorite food.

  6. K this looks good but I confess I LOVE the neon orange powdered mac n cheese in a box – in fact crave it!

  7. This sounds utterly amazing! Unfortunately, my kids don’t like creamy mac n’cheese. They prefer plain noodles with cheese melted on top, so if I made this I would end up having to eat the whole thing myself.

  8. I love the milk idea, never tried that before.
    I usually mix Ementhal and Gouda chesse (but that’s because I don’t any better cheeses :)

  9. OMG. This looks and sounds really good. I want.

  10. I grew up eating Macaroni and Cheese, and I love it to this day. Your cheese combo sounds great. I will have to give it a go. Thanks for the inspiration!

  11. Such a beautiful recipe, thank you! My man will love this.

  12. This looks absolutely amazing and I love your choice of cheeses to make this so Italian!

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