My favorite Cleveland restaurant unfortunately just suffered a fire and is in the rebuilding process, and I can't wait until it reopens. One of my favorite dishes there is a white macaroni and cheese with goat's cheese and rosemary. I first tried it when I was a student, as a half portion would go on special during happy hour at the bar. Even now without such a tight budget, it is still my go-to comfort food. Here's to Lolita—enjoy. —Emily | Cinnamon&Citrus
Test Kitchen Notes
This pasta has a presence. The combination of goat cheese and apricots is sweet, creamy, and slightly tangy. I’ve never considered apricots in pasta before and got a little over-eager when adding them to the dish, making it perhaps too sweet. But this was an easy, filling dish that I would make again. —Katie Macdonald
rigatoni or penne rigate pasta
Salt to taste
7 to 8
dried apricots, chopped (about 1/4 to 1/3 cup)
Bring a large pasta pot of water to boil while you start your sauce. Once boiling, salt the water well, then cook your pasta one minute shy of the directed cooking time, to just short of al dente, and drain.
In a medium/large saucepan (large enough to later finish cooking your pasta in the sauce), melt the butter over medium heat. To the melted butter, whisk in the flour until well combined with no lumps. Cook for only a few minutes to remove the raw flour taste; this is a light roux.
Whisking constantly, add the milk to your roux. Bring to a slow bubble over medium heat, whisking until the sauce just begins to slightly thicken. Add the rosemary, bay leaf, and apricots, and season with salt (go light initially and readjust if needed after the cheese is added) and white pepper. Continue cooking the béchemel sauce slowly over medium heat, stirring frequently and scraping down the sides of the pan with a wooden spoon, until the sauce is thick and coats the back of a spoon, about 20 minutes.
Remove the bay leaf and rosemary sprig. Crumble the goat cheese into the sauce and stir to thoroughly combine (now you have a Mornay sauce). Add your cooked, drained pasta to the sauce and continue cooking for another minute or so, stirring to coat the noodles. If you care to garnish with a sharp cheese, I suggest Pecorino for this, as this sheep's milk cheese is tangy and echoes the goat cheese flavor—but I enjoy this straight from the pot as above!