Goat Cheese Pesto Mac + Cheese

Now that it's October and the weather is cooling down {well it is here at least!}, I'm definitely in the mood for warm comfort food.  Homemade mac & cheese is a go-to favorite of mine.  It's always rich and creamy, which is a decadent treat during the chillier days of fall.  

We decided to turn it up a notch with this recipe by switching out the traditional cheddar cheese for goat cheese and also by adding some pesto.  All I can say is that this, by far, my new favorite way to enjoy mac & cheese.  You would think that the goat cheese would be too rich and creamy, but it's just right.  And the pesto adds another flavor that's unexpected but yet, right on key.  We decided next time, we'll add more bread crumbs to the top...it adds a nice crunch.  Otherwise...this is a dream recipe that the whole family can enjoy!

Recipe from Food Network:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for baking dish
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped basil leaves
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 3/4 cups Parmesan

1 pound mini pasta shells {we used Orecchiette}
2 cups milk {we used non-fat}
16 ounces goat cheese
1/2 cup pesto sauce, store-bought or home-made
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

*Note: we cut this recipe in half, as it's supposed to serve 8-10.

Preheat the broiler and arrange a rack on top.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a small pan over low heat.  In a large bowl add the garlic, basil, panko, and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan.  Add the melted butter and toss to combine. Reserve.

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions.  Meanwhile, put the milk in a small pot and bring to a simmer over low heat.  Simmer until reduced and slightly thickened, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water and drain the pasta. Put the pot over low heat and add the milk mixture. When it simmers, add the goat cheese and whisk until smooth. Add in the remaining Parmesan and whisk until melted.

Add the pasta and stir to coat. Stir in the pesto, reserved cooking water, salt, and pepper. Season with additional salt and freshly ground black pepper, if needed.

Pour the pasta mixture into the buttered baking dish and top with the panko mixture. Put under the broiler until the mixture bubbles and the top is browned, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the broiler and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Do yourself a favor and add this to the dinner list this week...you'll be happy that you did!!

Hope you enjoy...bon appetit!

xo natasha


  1. I'm a sucker for goat cheese. I was just thinking I needed to get to the store today, so this will definitely be on the list. Pinning!

  2. Oh, we are totally making this one. I always LOVE your recipes! Thanks for sharing!

  3. mmmmm.... before I went off dairy our friend made us a similar arugula pesto mac and cheese, goat cheese sounds even yummier! It was soo good... ahh I want mac and cheese now!! :p

    (here's her link if you want to try out her pesto for a change up! http://www.strawberryswingandthings.com/2012/05/wednesdays-weekly-check-in-week-5.html)

  4. My 3 favorites- Mac & cheese, goat cheese and pesto!!

  5. Um--you had me at goat cheese? :) This sounds amazing. I was actually craving mac and cheese for some reason, but I think I will make this grown up version tonight. Sounds awesome. Pinned for sure. :)

  6. I didn't even have to read further than the title to know I'll be making this this weekend! I can't think of a better recipe that incorporates all of my favorite ingredients :) Thanks for sharing!

    {Southern Living, Our Way ~ www.alexaandglenn.blogspot.com}

  7. Oh my word - this seriously looks amazing!!! I'm a huge mac n cheese fan so any variation is worth a try in my book :) Thanks for sharing!


  8. This looks amazing! Goat cheese + pest ... yum!

  9. Sounds delish..love homeade Mac n cheese, adding pesto and goat cheese sounds like a great switch up.

  10. Sounds delish..love homeade Mac n cheese, adding pesto and goat cheese sounds like a great switch up.

  11. Sounds delish..love homeade Mac n cheese, adding pesto and goat cheese sounds like a great switch up.

  12. UM, yum, and that looks great! My husband makes vegan / plant-strong mac n cheese, but this looks great!

    We have a restuarant in Houston called - Jus Mac (www.jusmac.com). I've been there once w/ friends. It was SO GOOD. But I did feel sick the rest of the day - maybe too much richness?



  13. Oh yum! :) So happy to have met you and your sweet family yesterday! Good luck on your first day back at work today! xo

  14. Oh my goodness! This looks amazing!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE goat cheese and pesto, so I'll definitely have to make this sometime :)

  15. This looks sooo good! I love goat cheese! I used to hate it, but now that I'm older, I can't get enough!

  16. Mac n Cheese is one of my favorite meals! Yum!

  17. This looks delicious!! I love goat cheese & of course pasta! Thanks for sharing!

  18. This sounds delicious- I'm a huge goat cheese fan so I am bookmarking this recipe

  19. Ooooh I'm so sad! My baby boy isn't tolerating when I have any kind of dairy and your recipe consist of some of my most favorite things to consume in this world!!! I"m going to go pout now lol

    - Sarah

  20. This looks great. Now if only I could get my guy to eat goat cheese. I'll never understand how he doesn't like it. It's my favorite.

  21. Girl you know they way to my heart!! I am drooling. This and the enchiladas are on my must make list!

  22. Goat cheese is my absolute favorite!! Can't wait to try this. Love your blog and all the yummy recipes!

  23. Your recipes look SO amazeballs lately! Every time I look at them, I'm starving!

  24. Looks yummy! As soon as our weather cools off a bit I'll be making this. Perfect comfort food. I love goat cheese..actually any cheese!

  25. I don't know exactly what goat cheese tastes like compared to regular cheese, but this dish looks absolutely amazing! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe.


  26. I tried this recipe and it was amazing! Thanks for posting awesome recipes!