Mac 'n cheesy goodness

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

The dreary post-holiday weeks require nothing short of the ultimate comfort food. And I have just the dish.

With inspiration from Giada De Laurentiis of the Food Network, I turned everyday macaroni and cheese into something special. Instead of elbow macaroni, I use orzo, a rice shaped pasta. In addition to the cheddar (or fontina or Gruyere, whatever you like), I include cubes of fresh mozzarella which add creamy pockets of goodness. And to make the recipe a true one-dish meal, I've added peas for color and a nutritional boost. This recipe can chase away the winter blues better than just about anything.


Makes 8 servings

Serve this as a main course or side dish to just about any roasted meat.

4 cups canned low-salt chicken broth

1 pound orzo pasta

1 cup milk

4 ounces shredded cheddar, fontina or Gruyere

4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cubed

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup fresh white bread crumbs

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1 tablespoon butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 2-quart baking dish. Bring broth to a boil in a medium-size saucepan. Add orzo. Cook until almost tender. Transfer orzo mixture to a large heatproof bowl. Add milk, cheddar, mozzarella and peas to orzo mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish.

Combine bread crumbs, parmesan and thyme in a bowl. Add butter and toss to coat. Sprinkle over orzo. Bake until mixture is bubbling and topping is golden brown, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Robin Davis is food editor of The Columbus Dispatch . She oversees the Food section, published each Wednesday, which features recipes, question-and-answer columns and reviews of cookbooks, wines and local eateries.