Fresh Mint and Zucchini Mac and Cheese

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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This mac & cheese is the easiest of the three I posted this week.  I already posted Smoked Gouda & Truffle Oil Mac and Cheese with Crispy Panko and Chipotle Gouda and Guinness (Stout) Mac and Cheese with Vegan Pulled Chicken (or Pork) in Homemade Chipotle Apricot BBQ Sauce – seen above, respectively.

I have also posted another version of mint & zucchini pasta in one of my earliest recipes in the first week or so of my food porn blogging adventure – Zucchini & Mint Pasta with Parmesan – seen below in a rather underwhelming photo.

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That recipe was stolen from my friend Naomi but this mac & cheese is all mine.  Mint & zucchini might sound odd but they add a light & refreshing taste to pasta – which is sort of the opposite of what you think of when you think pasta.

This mac & cheese was easiest because I did not bother with a roux.  This can come together very quickly  – like – the time it takes to cook the pasta – and then sit waiting on your counter (or fridge) until you are thirty minutes away from serving dinner.

Alas – my photos of THIS mint & zucchini dish are also underwhelming because 1) I didn’t photograph the leftovers until the next day (as these three mac & cheeses were made for a birthday dinner) and more importantly 2) I tripped over a dog gate as I carried the ramekins to a nicely lit spot & I took quite a fall.  I broke a little table:

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and hot mac & cheese flew all over a nutmeg leather & brocade love seat & all over the floor, too.  My self-pity knew no bounds & the photo session was over.  So – I had to settle for what I had taken so far.  But – trust me – this dish is far yummier than the photos suggest & it really is easy.

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Fresh Mint and Zucchini Mac and Cheese

INGREDIENTS

1/2 to 3/4  lb macaroni (or pasta of your choice)

6 very large zucchini or 12 regular ones

1 bunch fresh mint

6 garlic cloves

2 TBS olive oil

2 cups pepper jack – grated

2 cup mozzarella – grated

1 cup Parmesan

4 oz cream cheese

S&P

Extra Parmesan for garnish

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the pasta.

Meanwhile, using a cheese grater or a food processor – grate all but one large (or 2 small) zucchinis.  Slice the remaining ones into 1/4 inch thick rounds to be used to top the pasta – like you see on the one on the far right.

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Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan.  Drop in the garlic cloves.  I left mine whole because they were small but you can chop yours first – if the idea of biting into a whole clove later bums you out.

Add the zucchini & saute until soft.  Season with S&P.

Chop the mint.  Reserve some for garnish later & toss the rest into the zucchini pan.  Stir to combine.

When the pasta is done, drain it & toss it with the zucchini mixture.  Reserve 1 cup of mozzarella & the cup of grated Parmesan & mix the pepper jack, cream cheese & remaining one cup of mozzarella with the pasta.

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Treat a casserole pan (or ramekins) with cooking spray & put the pasta mix in.  Top with zucchini rounds & then with the 1 cup each of mozzarella & Parmesan.

Heat for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is all melted & bubbling & beginning to turn golden.

Let it rest 5-10 minutes, serve & garnish with more mint (and Parmesan) and lots of freshly ground pepper & then dig in.

Delicious, no?    Told ya so!

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