Macaroni and cheese is truly a season-less dish. Seriously, who doesn’t want cheesy, hearty nostalgia when it’s offered? But Chef Micah Fredman of Ipsa Provisions has given the classic pasta dish a spring makeover with the inclusion of asparagus, spinach, green garlic, spring onions and more greenery. With its ramp pesto and creamy mornay, this mac and cheese is going to be your go-to potluck recipe this spring.
1 (16-ounce) box Sfoglini Saffron Malloreddus
For the Greens
1 bunch asparagus
1 bunch green garlic (available at spring farmers’ markets; if unavailable,
substitute additional scallions or spring onion)
1 bunch spring onions
1 bunch scallions
1 (8-ounce) bag spinach
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Mornay
1 stick (¼ pound) unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 quart whole milk
¼ cup grated cheddar (we love Milton Creamery Prairie Breeze)
¼ cup grated butterkäse (we use Snowfield’s Butterkäse)
2 teaspoons kosher salt, or more to taste
For the Pesto
⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium clove garlic, minced
1 bunch ramp tops, greens only
½ cup basil
¼ cup grated Pecorino Romano
Kosher salt, to taste
¼ cup grated Pecorino Romano
Boil pasta until just al dente, then quickly shock under cold running water and toss with a bit of olive oil. Set aside.
To prepare the greens, wash asparagus and snap off the bottom of each stem. Set aside 4 spears to be used as garnish on finished pasta dish. Slice the remaining spears into ½-inch disks. Wash the green garlic, spring onions and scallions, and slice thinly. Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the sliced onions until they have softened and their raw taste has cooked out, about 8–10 minutes. Season with salt. Fold in the spinach and asparagus disks just until the spinach wilts; remove from the heat.
For the Mornay sauce, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add in the flour, stirring to combine. Cook 5–7 minutes, stirring frequently, until the raw aroma of the flour has cooked off. Heat the milk gently while the flour and butter are cooking, then gradually whisk the milk into the flour
and butter. Bring to a low simmer, whisking until it is perfectly smooth. Whisk in the cheddar and butterkäse. Season to taste with salt and remove from heat.
For the pesto, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Quickly blanch the ramp tops and basil, then run them under cold water to cool. Squeeze out as much water as possible. Roughly chop the greens, then add them to a blender. Add in the olive oil, minced garlic and Pecorino. Blend on low just until the pesto comes together.
To assemble, combine the blanched pasta, Mornay and the greens. Stir gently to combine well, then pour into a large baking dish. Place the 4 whole spears of asparagus atop the dish. Drizzle the pesto over the top, and sprinkle with the remaining Pecorino. The dish can be stored in the freezer at this point and baked directly from frozen at 400 °F until the top is nicely browned and the center warmed through, 50–60 minutes. If not frozen, it can be baked at 425 °F until the top is nicely browned and the center warmed through, 20–25 minutes.
Recipe and feature photo by Chef Micah Fredman, Ipsa Provisions