This is a fancy mac and cheese that is served at The Beachcomber at Crystal Cove in Newport Coast, Ca.
Makes 4 to 8 servings
1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons butter, divided
8 ounces sliced white button mushrooms, about 4 cups
4 ounces baby spinach, about 4 cups
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2 cups heavy cream
12 ounces shredded smoked Gouda, about 3 cups
8 ounces grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese, a generous 2 cups, plus 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano, divided
1/4 cup white truffle oil
1 (1-pound box) cavatappi or macaroni pasta, cooked and drained
Salt and white pepper
4 ounces (2 cups) mixed mushrooms, such as chanterelle, enoki or oyster
1/2 cup panko (Japanese-style) breadcrumbs
Parsley sprigs, for garnish
1. Heat a medium, heavy-bottom pot over medium-high heat until hot. Add 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter, swirling to melt.
2. Add the button mushrooms and sauté until lightly colored, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the spinach and continue to sauté for a minute to wilt.
3. Stir in the heavy cream, smoked Gouda, 8 ounces pecorino or Parmesan cheese and truffle oil, and reduce the heat slightly. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce starts to thicken, about 5 minutes.
4. Toss in the cooked pasta and heat through, stirring until the sauce is thickened and creamy. Taste and season if desired. Remove from heat and set aside in a warm place.
5. Heat a saute pan over medium-high heat until hot. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and sauté the mixed mushrooms until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
6. In a small bowl, toss together the panko crumbs with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.
7. To plate, divide the pasta among 4 to 8 ovenproof bowls. Top the pasta with the bread crumb mixture and place the bowls under the broiler. Broil the pasta just until the topping starts to brown, about a minute, depending on the distance of the broiler.
8. Remove the bowls from the broiler and top each serving with the sauteed mixed mushrooms and a sprig of parsley. Serve immediately.
Note: Cavatappi pasta is a type of tube pasta, similar to macaroni; it is available some grocery stores.
From Noelle Carter, the Los Angeles Times, adapted from the Beachcomber at Crystal Cove in Newport Coast, Calif.