Mezze Penne Mac and Cheese with Prosciutto Cotto and Peas

Salty prosciutto and fresh peas add color and flavor to this creamy mac and cheese. Toasted panko adds crunch.

4 pounds Barilla Mezze Penne
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups panko breadcrumbs
4 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
4 minced garlic cloves
1 1/4 cups butter
4 small diced onion
1/2 cup flour
4 quarts milk
2 cups shredded fontina cheese
2 cups grated asiago cheese
as needed salt
as needed pepper
1 pound diced prosciutto cotto
4 cups green peas
  1. Cook the Barilla pasta for half the time indicated on the package. Drain pasta and drizzle with some olive oil to prevent from sticking. Place pasta flat on sheet trays or hotel pans and cool in a blast chiller. Alternatively, cool it down in a walk-in cooler. Store in zip lock bags or sealed plastic container; refrigerate and use within several hours.
  2. Combine the breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper with oil to coat. Toast in the oven until slightly browned. Remove and cool. Set aside.
  3. Bring the milk to a low boil.
  4. In a pot, saute the onions in the butter until translucent. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly add the hot milk, whisking well. Bring to a boil, then simmer until slightly thickened. Turn off the heat and whisk in the cheeses until melted. Season with salt and pepper. Let cool and refrigerate until needed.

For each serving, to order:

  1. Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil in a skillet and add 2/3 ounce prosciutto and 2 1/2 tablespoons peas. Brown the ham, then add about 3/4 cup cheese sauce. Reduce the heat to low.
  2. Reheat 1 1/3 cups pasta in simmering water. Drain and add to the sauce, with pasta water to loosen if necessary. Toss and plate. Top with about 3 tablespoons toasted breadcrumbs.