Eggplant Mac and Cheese
Tangy goat cheese and sweet, sun-dried tomatoes are perfect counterparts for roasted eggplant, and this soul-satisfying version of macaroni and cheese does a great job of showcasing that unique flavor combination. Serve with a simple oil and vinegar-dressed salad for a complete and delicious meatless meal.
- 1 medium eggplant (about 1 lb)
- 8 ounces conchiglie (shell-shaped pasta)
- Olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1-3/4 cups milk
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 clove garlic, very finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 4 ounces fontina cheese, coarsely grated
- 4 ounces chèvre (goat cheese), softened
- 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
- Peel the eggplant, cut it into 1-inch cubes and arrange them in a single layer on a clean kitchen towel. Sprinkle with salt and set aside for 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and coat large baking sheet with nonstick spray. Blot the eggplant with paper towels and arrange the cubes in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil (1 to 2 tablespoons), season with freshly ground pepper and roast until tender and lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside.
- While the eggplant roasts, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the conchiglie and cook until tender but not soft (al dente). Drain and set aside.
- Heat the milk in the microwave or a separate saucepan until very warm, but not scalded. Set aside.
- Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the flour and mix well. Continue cooking for another 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and golden in color. Gradually add the warmed milk, whisking continually until well blended.
- Continue cooking, whisking frequently, until the sauce is smooth and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 7 to 8 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the pan with a spatula once or twice during cooking to ensure there are no lumps in your sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Reduce the heat to low, add the fontina and stir until completely melted. Add the goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and chives. Stir until creamy and smooth, then add the macaroni and reserved eggplant. Combine well, remove from the heat and allow to stand 5 minutes. Stir again, then serve.