Featured Wisconsin Cheeses: Bellatini Formaggio, Peppercorn Feta
Do people eat mac and cheese in Greece? I’m not sure, but if they do, I bet it tastes something like this recipe.
I want to tell you a little bit about my inspiration for the recipe. I fell in love with Greece while watching Mamma Mia! and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I have yet to travel to Greece, but every time I enjoy Greek cuisine, I can almost imagine myself on one of the islands, surrounded by the breeze off the blue waters, the white stucco of the buildings and the loud chatter of the Greek yayades. For the recipe, I picked some of my favorite ingredients from Greek salad and combined them with a traditional mac and cheese. The sweet red bell peppers, kalamata olives, pepperoncini, and parsley add not only color to the mac and cheese, but also cut through the richness of the creamy cheese sauce. The crumbled pita chips top the mac and cheese just like they would a large plate of Greek salad and add a nice texture contrast.
What about the cheese? I knew that I was going to use Feta, and was happy to find the Black Peppercorn variety. For the base cheese, I was thrilled to find Bellatini Formaggio - “Similar to a cross between Feta and Parmesan cheese, this one of a kind, high moisture crumble is extremely creamy. Great for salads or melting on Greek flatbreads.” How perfect is this?
And now I think you have waited long enough. Below is the recipe with the step-by-step photos. Go get in your kitchen! Opa!
My Big Fat Greek Mac and Cheese
12 ounces shell pasta
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups half and half
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cups (8 ounces) Wisconsin Bellatini Formaggio Cheese, crumbled (If you can’t find this cheese, you may substitute Wisconsin Fontina or Wisconsin Mozzarella, shredded)
2 roasted sweet red bell peppers, chopped
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced
1/3 cup pepperoncini, chopped
1/3 cup parsley, finely chopped
4 ounces (2/3 cup) Wisconsin Peppercorn Feta Cheese
1 cup pita chips, crumbled
Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook pasta in a pot of salted boiling water for 2 minutes less than instructed on the package. Melt butter over medium heat in a heavy bottom sauce pan. Sprinkle the flour into the butter, whisk to combine and cook for 2-3 minutes (this is your roux – the thickening agent for the sauce). Once golden brown and smooth, slowly whisk in half and half and simmer for 6-8 minutes, stirring often to prevent clumps.
Whisk in lemon zest, oregano and Bellatini Formaggio. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the cheese has completely melted and the sauce is thick and smooth, about 3-4 minutes.
Once the sauce and the pasta are ready, combine the two in a large bowl. Stir in the red peppers, olives, pepperoncini, parsley and Feta.
Butter 8 ramekins and place on a cookie sheet. Spoon the mac and cheese mixture into the ramekins and sprinkle with pita chips.
Bake the mac and cheese for 20 minutes and eat immediately!
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Bellatini Formaggio, Feta, Greek, Macaroni & Cheese, Wisconsin Cheese
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