Mac and cheese is one of those dishes we never tire of, but that doesn’t mean we don’t like to mix it up from time to time. In this seasonal spring version, Gruyère and mozzarella lend gooey goodness, while green peas, pea shoots, and fresh parsley add bright spring color. Breadcrumbs on top help tie it all together with some welcome crunch. We don’t mean to be biased, but if you’re anything like us, this might become your new mac and cheese go-to.
Since the sauce helps the rigatoni finish cooking in the oven, be sure to stir all your ingredients well in the tin to coat all the pasta.
2 tablespoons butter
1 1⁄2 ounces pea shoots
1⁄8 ounce fresh parsley
8 ounces rigatoni
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup whole milk
1⁄2 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
2 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup peas
1 tablespoon grated pecorino cheese
3 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
12″ large pot
1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Set aside butter to soften at room temperature until ready to use. Rinse pea shoots and cut into 1-inch pieces. Rinse parsley and roughly chop leaves, discarding stems.
2. Add salt generously to pot of boiling water. Stir in rigatoni, allow to return to a boil, and cook until very al dente, about 4 minutes. Drain and set aside.
3. While rigatoni cooks, using your hands, mix together flour and butter in a small bowl to make beurre manié. Add milk to pot from rigatoni over medium-high heat and cook until small bubbles form on the surface, 2-3 minutes. Add beurre manié and whisk continuously until smooth, about 1 minute more. Remove pot from heat. Season with 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt and pepper as desired.
4. Add cheese mix, peas, pea shoots, and rigatoni to pot with sauce and stir to combine (see Recipe Tip). Transfer to tin, reshaping if bent. Sprinkle pecorino and breadcrumbs on top. Cover loosely with foil.
5. Place mac and cheese on a baking sheet, transfer to top rack of oven, and bake until beginning to bubble, about 5 minutes, then remove. Discard foil, return to oven, and continuing baking until rigatoni is fully cooked and cheese is melted, 5-7 minutes more.
6. Remove mac and cheese from oven and set aside to cool for about 5 minutes. Garnish with parsley and enjoy your cheesy masterpiece.