Mac and Cheese with Pesto, Proscuitto, and Peas

The storm is almost here. All day, I’ve been listless. Which is a crazy thing to feel when your favorite way to spend a Sunday is in your sweats, with your husband, cooking, blogging, and watching Downton Abbey – and then Sunday seeps gloriously over into Monday. Most weekend days that I don’t have to leave Brooklyn, I rejoice. But today, a trip to Canal Street almost sounds appealing. I could even handle the tourists!

Yesterday, according to the supermarket cashier, everyone was stocking up on baking supplies. At Fairway with my friend Essie, people were cranky and buying gallons of water. On our drive back we saw guys carrying thirty racks of PBR and Pork Slap. “Hipster water,” Essie said.

I, too, baked. I made peanut butter cookies this morning – they’ll be the fourth peanut butter cookie recipe to go up on the blog. I played with a Naptime Chef recipe and tweaked it so that it’s Thanksgiving-y. More on that soon. I went for a walk in Prospect Park, but a dark sedan with tinted windows drove by and ordered me out after about a minute. There must have been a cop driving, but all I heard was an eerie voice on the microphone. I turned around and walked on Eastern Parkway instead.

Anyway, for all that there’s been nothing to do, it took me all day to write this post.

Mac and cheese makes me think of being a kid and eating dinner when my dad was out. He didn’t like cheese (except for mozzarella on pizza and chicken parm), and so we’d only have mac when he wasn’t around. Likewise, Alex and heavy dairy products. He went hiking with friends over Labor Day weekend, and while he was out of town, I made this casserole dish of ultra-creamy mac and cheese spiked with prosciutto, peas, and pesto. When the cat’s away… Right?

Even though I bet everyone on the East Coast is home tonight, cheese lovers and haters alike, I thought it seemed like a cozy, pantry-friendly dish to share. Have fun staying in! And if you think of any hilarious ways to avoid cabin fever, please share.


Mac and Cheese with Pesto, Proscuitto, and Peas
Serves 6

This is really rich! Serve small portions, and accompany with a salad.

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, plus a little more for the pan
1 quart whole milk
1 pound penne rigate
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3/4 cup frozen peas, defrosted
1 pound sharp white cheddar cheese, grated (4 cups)
1/2 pound mozzarella (fresh or supermarket-style), grated (1 cup)
6 slices prosciutto, cut into skinny strips
1/2 cup pesto, preferably homemade

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and set it aside.

Warm the milk in the microwave or in a saucepan set over medium-low heat.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, following the package directions, until 3 minutes shy of al dente. The pasta should still have a bite to it. Drain, and shake out all the water.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour and cook until it is fully incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the warm milk and whisk gently over medium heat until the mixture has bubbled and thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the salt, pepper, mustard, peas, and most of the grated cheese, reserving about 1 cup. Add the pasta and toss to combine.

Distribute half the mixture evenly in the prepared pan. Scatter the slices of prosciutto. Dollop teaspoon-fuls of pesto around the dish. Top with the resto of the mac mixture, then sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until bubbling and brown. Let rest for 5 minutes, then serve.


  1. This is so adult! My inner child would have turned her head up at this, but I would love to serve it at my next casual dinner party. I think it will be a hit.

    • That’s such a perfect way of putting it! When we’re kids we think we want to be fancy. And now that we’re grown up, we sometimes want to be kids.

  2. Yum! I hope you are doing well in the wake of Sandy and congratulations on your wedding!! 🙂

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