This ain’t yo momma’s mac and cheese! Or Kraft’s for that matter. No, this is grown-up macaroni meets some Italian-style influence meets anything other than the prepackaged, processed DayGlo orange “cheese.”
Penne pasta has become a mainstay for restaurant’s making gourmet mac’n cheese. It’s thicker and acts as an instant hideout for more gobs of gooey melted cheese. However, tonight’s deviation involved bowtie pasta with a rich and thick sauce that included garlic, red pepper flakes, cream, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, parmesano cheese, fontina cheese and tomato paste. The tomato paste and cream combination is what gives the modern day Mac its old-school orange coat. Just boil the pasta separately before stirring it into the sauce. Garnish with some freshly chopped mint before serving.
Mint? What? Trust me it works.
The heat from the red peppers and the sweetness of the sun-dried tomatoes also make for an interesting back-and-forth on the palate. And since it’s mac and cheese with a tomato influence there are several wines that could pair well with it including a Spanish Tempranillo, a California Zinfandel or even an Italian Nero D’Avola. Look for the Campo Reales, the Four Vines Zinfandel or the Morgante Nero D’Avola as pictured below. These three recommendations can go in and out of the market but should be available by request.