Mushrooms, long associated with the dark and the dank, are a source of vitamin D—otherwise known as the sunshine vitamin and an “it” vitamin in terms of health benefits. Their earthy, nutty flavor turns this creamy macaroni and cheese into fine dining.
- 4 ounces (about 2 cups) cavatappi pasta, uncooked
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound assorted mushrooms cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups milk
- 8 ounces fromage blanc (if you can get it, use Leelanau Cheese Company’s herb fromage blanc and omit the rosemary and thyme)
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Mix and match any varieties of fresh mushrooms—portabella, oyster, crimini, button for this recipe. Have a cache of dried morels left from last spring? Go ahead and use them, just reconstitute them first in a bowl of water.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Cook pasta according to package directions. While pasta cooks, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add a single layer of mushrooms and cook, without stirring, for about five minutes or until mushroomsbecome red-brown on one side. Flip mushrooms and cook about five minutes more.
Melt butter in a large saucepan and whisk in flour. Cook for a minute or two to slightly toast flour. Stir in salt and whisk in milk. Bring to a low boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to slightly thicken sauce, for about five minutes. Remove sauce from heat, whisk in cheeses (and rosemary and thyme if you are using them) and stir to melt. Stir in mushrooms and pasta and divide between four one-cup ramekins.
Place ramekins on baking sheet and bake until cheese bubbles around edges, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve warm.