Because most people go to Seattle's Dahlia lounge for the innovative northwestern food and the groovy scene, a lot of them miss this excellent take on macaroni and cheese. It's not one of those Cheddar-heavy versions. Instead it has the slight tang of goat cheese, a spicy bread crumb and bacon topping and a healthy dose of grated Parmesan.
Plus: More Pasta Recipes and Tips
4 slices of bacon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup coarse dried bread crumbs
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
1/3 cup soft goat cheese
1 tablespoon minced chives
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound penne pasta
How to Make It
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a small skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain, and let cool. Crumble the bacon.
In a small saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in the olive oil until foamy. In a bowl, toss the bacon with the bread crumbs, parsley, lemon zest and crushed red pepper. Stir in the olive oil mixture until incorporated.
Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan. Add the shallot and cook over moderate heat until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the cream and simmer, stirring, until reduced by one-third, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan, goat cheese and chives. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the penne to the boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain the penne and transfer to a serving bowl. Add the cheese sauce and toss. Sprinkle the bread crumbs on top and serve.
The red pepper can be balanced by acidity, fruit and a touch of sweetness. Try a Riesling or Tocai Friulano.
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