Macaroni and Cheese

Pizza-Macaroni and Cheese: 2 Comfort Foods, Together as 1

November 22, 2015

Posie Harwood, who finds the best back-of-the-box recipes in the grocery store, makes comfort food dreams come true.

There comes a time in all of our lives when we have to make tough decisions. One such choice: pizza or macaroni and cheese?

In the realm of comfort food, I believe that more is more. The entire point of comfort food is to be soothed and coddled by rich, nostalgic flavors. Comfort food should be everything you love, and nothing less.

So I’ve dreamed up a brilliant way to say yes to two of your favorites at once: pizza mac and cheese.

Before you make a face, let me explain. This isn’t a lowbrow food mash-up for the sake of novelty. I started with a recipe borrowed from Progresso for the “ultimate mac and cheese," a classic and elegant baked pasta dish with a silky béchamel sauce and a crunchy breadcrumb topping.

 

Then, I culled the best parts from a slice of pizza: the earthy trifecta of garlic-oregano-basil; the gentle heat of red pepper flakes; melted mozzarella; and saucy tomatoes. I used dried spices, fresh garlic, and excellent fresh mozzarella and to mimic the tomato sauce, I stirred chopped sun-dried tomatoes into my béchamel. Salty, acidic, sweet. 

Bizarrely enough, it really does taste like pizza. The oregano and sun-dried tomatoes are crucial in mimicking the pizza flavor, and the crunchy breadcrumb topping stands in for the crust.

Now, let’s talk about pepperoni. To some, a pizza isn’t complete without it. You can add a handful of chopped pepperoni to your pasta if you feel that way. Or leave it out if you like. Or you can go rogue and add your favorite pizza topping. Bacon! Kale! Olives! Sausage! Have at it. If it works on pizza, (I think) it will work here.

This is the kind of meal that will quickly gain a permanent place on your roster—the sort of dinner that you'll make for your kids, and that they'll request for years and years, every time they come home from college and far-flung places. 

Pizza Macaroni and Cheese

Adapted loosely from Progesso

Serves 6

cups (16 ounces) dried pasta
1/2 cup butter
cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
teaspoon salt
4 1/2 cups milk, warmed slightly
3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped
teaspoons dried basil
teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 1/2 cups shredded Provolone cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
12 slices pepperoni, diced (optional)
cup panko breadcrumbs

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Posie Harwood 

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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2 Comments

Sarah C. November 25, 2015
My husband, as a teenager, worked at a pizza restaurant that made a mac-and-cheese pizza. I never had it, but I'm told it was a light white sauce over shells on a pizza crust--sounds like carby goodness!
 
AntoniaJames November 23, 2015
So clever! Seems like the perfect way to use up those odd bits of salami one always seems to have after making pizza + any odd bits of cheese that need a good home. <br />Definitely putting this on the project plan for one night during the holidays when both sons are home! ;o)