macaroni and cheese

In case you haven't figured it out yet, I love food. I also love cheese--I have a deep appreciation for all the different kinds of cheese and how each one can take a dish to a whole new level. When my metabolism declines...I'm probably in trouble. But for now, I'm enjoying it while I can.  My roomates and I made macaroni and cheese probably three or four times a week in college.  Kraft, Velveta shells & cheese...you name it, we most likely tried it, and frequently consumed it.  Now that I'm an "adult," and have roomates who love experimenting with food as much as I do, we like to get a little bit more creative.

My roomate Lisa brought home this feature from Family Circle magazine one night, and the three of us sat there drooling over the choices for more than a few minutes.  We finally decided to make the goat cheese, fig, and walnut mac. In other words, heaven in a bowl (too much?...nope).
image via family circle
Here's what you'll need (8 servings):
2 1/2 cups of 2% milk
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 pound pasta (we used rotini; gemelli is pictured above)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 4-ounce logs goat cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried figs, sliced (don't shy away from these, they make all the difference)
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts

Add milk and rosemary to a small saucepan over low heat.  Cover for 20 to 25 minutes, allowing the herb to infuse.  Remove rosemary sprig.  Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook for 10 minutes (or until pasta is tender); drain and set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Sprinkle in flour, whisking constantly for 2 minutes (note: make sure you add the flour in a little bit a time, while you are whisking--simply dumping it in will cause it to clump and ruin the result you want). Pour in infused milk, whisking until it comes to a boil.  Simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes.  Crumble in goat cheese, piece by piece, stirring until smooth. Add salt, figs, walnuts and cooked pasta. 

Now comes the best part: eating it! I'm telling you, this mac 'n' cheese will blow your mind.  I'll fess up and say I wasn't entirely helpful with the cooking process...but I did an excellent job ensuring all wine glasses were constantly full.

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