Usually I'm pretty domineering about what we eat for dinner. My way or the highway, fam. But I figured I could allow Nat to choose his own birthday meal. (I know you are v. curious for my tips on how to become so generous. Stay tuned.)
I was surprised not at all when he choose mac & cheese. We rarely have it, but he loves it more than all the foods. So because I am excellent at not going overboard, I made one basic cheddar version and one with mascarpone & sauteed mushrooms. I was delighted when the later was his favorite, too.
Mascarpone & Mushroom Mac
adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
1 pound small pasta (I used fusilli)
2 T butter
8 oz sliced mushrooms
3/4 cups milk
1 1/2 cups mascarpone cheese
1/2/ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup more bread crumbs (I used freshly toasted bread cubes)
1. Preheat oven to 400F. Bring a large pot of water to boil and salt it.
2. Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain it and put it in a large bowl (or, if you're like me and hate using extra dishes, directly into the baking dish).
3. Heat the butter in a large pan over medium heat. Allow to brown slightly until fragrant (but don't burn it!). Add the mushrooms and let cook until they've released their moisture and are tender.
4. Mix together the milk, mascarpone, and Parmesan in a large bowl. Add the pasta, sage, and mushrooms, sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste, and stir to combine.
5. Spray a 9x13 baking dish and add pasta & cheese mixture. Top with bread crumbs and bake until bubbling and crumbs have browned slightly, about 15 minutes.