This pesto cavatappi mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food dish. It’s creamy, cheesy, and ridiculously easy to make. Whether you enjoy it as a flavorful vegetarian side dish or the main attraction, it’s guaranteed to make you and your belly smile.
This post is sponsored by Delallo but the recipe and opinions are all mine.
You know what always makes me feel better? A big bowl of cheesy pasta.
During this time of uncertainty, food is truly the one thing we can count on.
Not only does it bring people together but it nourishes the soul and sparks creativity... which is pretty great especially when there's a pandemic happening.
When things are hard and our future seems uncertain, it's helpful to focus on something good and comforting.
Which is why I wanted to work with my friends at Delallo Foods to share a tasty comfort food recipe like this one.
As fresh produce is becoming harder and harder to have on hand, their jarred pesto has become a staple in my household. It's bright, flavorful and perfectly seasoned... and it's way cheaper than making it yourself which is also excellent.
And pasta? Well, pasta is probably the most clutch ingredients during this time. It's shelf-stable so it lasts FOREVER, it is super quick to make, and you can do just about a million things with it.
As for the cheese component, well if you follow me, I have a feeling you have some sort of cheese in your fridge at all times. So we're good to go with that!
And once you combine it all together, you get a super tasty, ultra easy, and extremely comforting dish that will bring joy to you and your quarantine family.
And if you're stressed that you might not have all the ingredients, don't be! I have a section below that suggests substitutions and recommendations if you're working with limited ingredients.
So let's get to it, shall we?
Ingredients - What you need
- Delallo Cavatappi Pasta
- Delallo Private Reserve Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Fresh Garlic
- Red Pepper Flakes
- Heavy Cream
- Delallo Simply Pesto - Traditional Basil
- Havarti Cheese
- Salt & Pepper
How to make pesto mac and cheese
To begin, bring a big pot of salty water to a boil.
Once it's boiling, add your Delallo Cavatappi Pasta. To me, this pasta is the perfect noodle for mac and cheese. Not only does the corkscrew shape hold sauce really well, but the little ridges on the noodles themselves hold even more flavor!
Cook the pasta for 10 minutes which will produce the perfect al dente texture. Then strain it and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat a heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium heat and add the Delallo olive oil.
Then, add minced garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt. Cook this mixture for about 2 minutes or until the garlic has softened and is super fragrant. Just be careful not to brown it.
Now whisk in the flour and let the roux cook for a few minutes. You'll know it's ready when the flour taste has disappeared and a thick paste has developed.
Slowly whisk in milk and stir. Once it starts to simmer, then whisk in the heavy cream, little by little.
Turn the heat to medium-low and let the sauce simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring every once in a while, until the sauce thickens.
Now stir in the star of the show - the Delallo Simply Pesto - Traditional Basil! I love how flavorful and bright this pesto is. And the fact that it comes prepared and perfectly seasoned saves me so much time and effort, which i'm always down for!
It tastes insanely good, right?!
Now that the sauce is done, add the al dente cavatappi pasta and then stir until everything is evenly incorporated.
Then drop the heat to low and stir in 2 cups of cheese, little by little, until the sauce is smooth and creamy. You can also get some really great cheese pull shots at this point!
Lastly, Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.
Missing some ingredients? Try these suggestions!
If you don’t have Havarti cheese, don't sweat it! You can use another semi-soft cheese like mozzarella, white cheddar, gruyere, fontina or gouda. This recipe is going to be delicious no matter what kind of cheese you use - as long as you use a meltable cheese!
And if you don’t have both heavy cream and milk on hand, you could easily just use whatever dairy product you have — half and half will even work! It might not be as creamy but it will still be super delicious!
As for oat or almond milk, why not?! As long as it's not sweetened, you should be good to go! And if you do go this route, please DM me with suggestions and I'll put them in here!
What to pair it with
If I were serving this dish as a main, I'd recommend starting with this romaine wedge salad. Then pair it with this roasted brussel sprouts and asparagus and this flourless chocolate cake as a dessert.
Save it for later
If you'd like to save this recipe for later, feel free to pin it below!
Cheesy Stovetop Pesto Cavatappi Mac and Cheese
- 1 lb Delallo Cavatappi Pasta
- 3 tbsp Delallo Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 pinches red pepper flakes
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 cup milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 jar Delallo Simply Pesto
- 2 cups havarti shredded
- salt and pepper
- Boil water and add a few hefty pinches of salt. Cook pasta al dente, then strain, and set aside.
- Meanwhile, add olive oil to a heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium heat. Add minced garlic, red pepper flakes, and hefty pinch of salt and cook for 2 minutes or until softened and fragrant but not browned.
- Whisk in flour and let the roux cook for a few minutes until the flour taste has disappeared and a thick paste has developed.
- Slowly whisk in milk, then heavy cream and a ½ tsp salt.
- Turn the heat to medium-low and let the sauce simmer for 5-10 minutes so that it thickens and reduces.
- Stir in the pesto and season with more salt and pepper if needed.
- Next, add the al dente pasta and then stir until everything is evenly incorporated.
- Drop the heat to low and whisk in 2 cups of cheese, little by little, until the sauce is smooth and creamy.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- If you don’t have havarti, you can use another semi-soft cheese like mozzarella, white cheddar, gruyere, fontina, gouda, etc.
- If you don’t have cream and milk, you could easily just use whatever diary product you have — half and half will even work! It might not be as creamy but it will still be super delicious!