Nut-free Pesto Mac & Cheese

I love pesto.  The trick with pesto in our house is making it without the nuts.  If you don’t have nut allergies in your house you could use any store bought pesto or make your own from your favorite recipe.  I make mine the nut-free way…which looks a lot like a standard pesto recipe, but you’ll notice the oil is cut back a touch to compensate for the omitted nuts.  It has all the flavor of my old pesto, without the major allergen!  Allergic to cow’s milk/dairy?  Try swapping peccorino romano (sheep’s milk based) in place of the parmesan if that works for you.

Nut-Free Pesto

5 cups fresh basil

1-2 cloves garlic (or about 2 tsp minced garlic)

1 cup parmesan cheese

1/2-3/4 cup olive oil (start with 1/2 cup and add more if needed)

salt and pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse (pulsing is important…if you just run the food processor your basil will get overworked and turn brown…ew.)  If using whole cloves of garlic, you may want to add them first, pulse to mince, then add other ingredients.  If not, just double check to make sure you don’t have a giant chunk of garlic somewhere in your pesto…that would certainly be a surprise!  To store, place in tupperware and press plastic wrap onto the surface of the pesto before putting the lid on.  This will help keep it from browning.  Spread on sandwiches and wraps or use it to top chicken or fish…or use it in this delicious pesto mac & cheese!

Pesto Mac & Cheese

1 cup pesto

4 Tbls butter, divided

1/4 cup flour

1 cup milk

8 oz. Velveeta, cubed

16 oz. elbow macaroni, cooked

1/2 cup bread crumbs

Cook pasta and drain.  Spread a small amount of pesto in the bottom of a greased 9×13 baking dish and set aside.

Pesto Mac&Cheese

In a sauce pan, whip up a roux by melting 3 Tbls butter and gradually adding the flour to this butter, whisking constantly to combine, and cooking for about 2-3 minutes.  Slowly add the milk while continuing to whisk until all milk is added and mixture is smooth.

Pesto Mac&Cheese

Add cubed Velveeta and continue to whisk until melted into a thick cheese sauce.

Pesto Mac&Cheese

Add pasta to cheese sauce (cross your fingers it fits…mine was close!) and stir.  Spread about half of the cheesy pasta on top of the pesto in baking dish.  Top with remaining pesto.

Pesto Mac&Cheese

Spread remaining pasta on top.  Melt 1 Tbls butter and mix with bread crumbs.  Sprinkle over pasta.

Pesto Mac&Cheese

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until golden brown on top.

Pesto Mac&Cheese

Scoop yourself a spoonful and enjoy!

Pesto Mac&Cheese

Anybody else hungry?

 

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