Valentine’s in New York

Today is Valentine’s Day. It is freezing out. The streets are lined with roses spilling out of the Korean bodegas and everyone seems to be in a couple but me. Therefore I’m going into hibernation mode. Glorious warm hibernation. This dish was inspired by the need to clean out my fridge and cabinets but I think the results turned out so much better than I expected. Serve it with a crisp green salad to convince yourself that you are eating healthy. Also pop a good bottle of wine or bubbly and forget that it is a marketing holiday.

To make regular mac and cheese, omit the Bolognese and seasonings, and substitute elbow pasta for the shells and cheddar for the mozzarella.

Italian Mac and Cheese

1 lb package of whole wheat Conchigliette (shell) pasta
1 stick butter, reserve 1 tablespoon for the topping
1 cup flour
1 quart milk
1 tablespoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon parsley
3 cups Bolognese sauce
8oz grated mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons French friend onions

Boil the pasta according to package directions. Sit it aside in a colander to drain. Preheat the oven to 350 degrease.

In the same large pot that you cooked the pasta, melt the stick of butter. Once the butter is melted, add in the flour, whisking to combine. Slowing whisk in the milk so that no lump forms. Add all of the seasonings and continue whisking as the mixture thickens. Add in the Bolognese sauce and whisk to combine. Add in the cheese and continue whisking so that nothing sticks to the bottom. Taste the sauce to check for seasoning. Once the cheese has started to melt, fold in the pasta and transfer everything to a large glass ovenproof dish. Melt the reserved butter and mix with the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and friend onions. Sprinkle over the top of the casserole, trying to seal to the edge.

Bake the casserole for about an hour till the mixture is hot and bubbly and the topping is nice and golden brown and crispy.

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