- Mac & Cheese
- 10 ½ ounces dried cavatappi or fusilli pasta, (300g)
- 2.5–3 cups whole milk, (600 to 700 milliliters)
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, roughly cut into 1 1/4-inch/3cm cubes
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ⅛ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 ½ teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and roughly crushed with a mortar and pestle
- 5 tablespoons heavy cream, (75 grams)
- 1 ⅓ cups coarsely grated mature cheddar, (160 grams)
- 6 ⅓ ounces Greek feta, roughly crumbled (180 grams)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ½ cup crispy onions or shallots, store-bought or homemade (45 grams)
- Za'atar Pesto
- 1 large lemon
- 3 tablespoons za'atar
- 1 cup cilantro, leaves and stems both, chopped (20 grams)
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- ½ cup pine nuts, lightly toasted (40 grams)
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, (90 milliliters)
1. Put the pasta, 2½ cups/600ml of milk, 1½ cups/360ml of water, the butter, garlic, turmeric, 1 teaspoon of salt, and a good grind of pepper into a large sauté pan on medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, then turn the heat down to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 14 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente and the sauce has thickened from the pasta starches (it will still be quite saucy). If using cavatappi, you might need to add the extra ½ cup/100ml of milk at this stage, depending on how saucy you like your mac and cheese. Turn the heat down to low and stir in the cumin, cream, and both cheeses until the cheddar is nicely melted.
2. While the pasta is cooking, make the pesto. Finely grate the lemon to get 1½ teaspoons of zest. Then use a small, sharp knife to peel and segment the lemon and roughly chop the segments. Place in a bowl with the lemon zest and set aside. Put the za’atar, cilantro, garlic, pine nuts, ⅛ teaspoon of salt, a good grind of pepper, and half the oil into a food processor and pulse a few times until you have a coarse paste. Add to the chopped lemon in the bowl and stir in the remaining oil.
3. Transfer the mac and cheese to a large serving platter with a lip or a shallow bowl, dot all over with the pesto, then top with the crispy onions.
Get ahead: Make the Mac and cheese ahead of time if you like, adding a splash of water to thin out when reheating.
Make it your own: Play with different cheeses and spices. Use different pasta shapes like macaroni, adjusting liquid levels as necessary.