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Winter demands the warm comfort of mac and cheese
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Winter demands the warm comfort of mac and cheese

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In this grown-up version of macaroni and cheese we take a trip to Italy. Sort of.

Inspired by the Italian sub popular in the Northeast, we sautéed salami, garlic peppers, sun-dried tomatoes and onion. Our cheese sauce is creamy and sharp with a mixture of fontina and picante provolone. If you can't find picante provolone, just use the sharpest provolone you can find.

And while we used orecchiette pasta, any shape will do. If you prefer your macaroni and cheese baked, spoon the finished recipe into a casserole dish and top with Parmesan cheese before placing under the broiler for a minute or two. Garlic peppers are a sort of pickled red pepper. If you can't find them, substitute roasted red peppers and add a minced clove of garlic and a tablespoon of red wine vinegar.

Italian Macaroni

and Cheese

Start to finish: 40 minutes

Makes 8 servings

1 pound orecchiette pasta

5 ounces dry salami, diced (about 1 cup)

½ cup chopped oil packed sun-dried tomatoes

½ cup garlic peppers, diced

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2½ cups milk

1 cup shredded fontina cheese

1 cup shredded picante provolone cheese

½ cup shredded fresh basil

Salt and black pepper, to taste

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium-high, sauté the salami until crisped and browned, about 5 minutes. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, garlic peppers and onion. Continue to cook until the onion is very tender, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the butter and stir until melted. Add the flour and stir to coat well.

While stirring continuously, pour in the milk. Bring the mixture to a boil, continuing to stir. Cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the fontina and provolone, one at a time, to ensure even melting. Stir in the basil and the cooked pasta. Season with salt and black pepper.

Nutrients per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 480 calories; 170 calories from fat (36 percent of total calories); 19 grams fat (10 grams saturated; no trans fats); 55 milligrams cholesterol; 53 grams carbohydrate; 23 grams protein; 3 grams fiber; 820 milligrams sodium.

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