cheddar, avocado, lime and shell pasta, a cookbook review: melt

Avocado lime pasta with cheddar

If you love mac n'cheese as much as I do, then I am sure you will absolutely fall in love with Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese, a fantastic new cookbook by longtime food bloggers, Stephanie Stiavetti and Garrett McCord, that I had the opportunity to review. Accompanying a delectable collection of recipes in this cookbook, is the awe inspiring photography of Matt Armendariz that will leave you, as I will simply put it, very, very hungry! 

It is hard to imagine diversifying something as simple as cheese and macaroni but that is exactly what both Stephanie and Garrett successfully accomplished in their cookbook, they combine both of these  ingredients and whip up a variety of different recipes that go above and beyond what one could imagine. Personally for me, I was thrilled to see Indian cheeses like paneer being mentioned and used in this book and ingredients from other wonderful international cuisines. This book is written with passion and love, so you know it's definitely one you will want to own.

Shell pasta

Sometimes, it can be an absolute headache to find certain ingredients but both Stephanie and Garett have painstakingly, listed several alternate suggestions for cheeses and wine pairings, which is sure to make any cook's life easy. I particularly love that they even have a couple of useful chapters and resources devoted to cooking with cheeses and pasta and a special reference section at the end of the book, to help you get out there and expand your own creativity in the kitchen! 

Avocados and limes

Now here's some fun stuff, Stephanie and Garrett are celebrating the release of their new cookbook with some really great giveaways including a $500 Le Creuset cookware set, visit Melt for more details. 

This is one of my favorite recipes from Melt, it has every fresh flavor and ingredient that I love to cook with. Ripe avocados, fresh limes, spicy jalapeños, and refreshing cilantro leaves with warm, bubbly cheddar are all combined into one rich creamy sauce full of flavor that coats and fills the cup of every piece of shell pasta. Get your copy of Melt, I know you will love it as much as I do!

Cheddar, Avocado and Lime Shell Pasta

beecher's flagship cheddar with avocado, lime and shell pasta

from Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese by Stephanie Stiavetti and Garrett McCord, courtesy of Little, Brown and Company

yields: 4 to 6 servings

ingredients

1 jalapeño pepper 
zest of 1 lime
2 green onions, green parts only, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 ripe avocados, pits and skin removed, divided
10 ounces conchiglie or other medium shell pasta
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
10 ounces Beecher's flagship cheddar, shredded
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
lime wedges for garnish

1. Remove the stem from the jalapeño and cut the jalapeño in half. Remove the ribs and seeds-or keep them, depending on how much heat you like. Toss the jalapeño into the bowl of a food processor with the lime zest and lime juice. Add green onions, garlic, and flesh of the 2 avocados. Blitz together into a very smooth paste. 
2. Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain through a colander and set aside. 
3. To prepare the mornay sauce, heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. As soon as the milk starts to steam and tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan, turn off the heat. Place the butter in a medium saucepan and melt over medium flame. Add the flour and stir with a flat-edge wooden paddle just until the roux begins to take on a light brown color, scraping the bottom to prevent burning, about 3 minutes. Slowly add the milk and stir constantly until the sauce thickens enough to evenly coat the back of a spoon-a finger drawn along the back of the spoon should leave clear swath. Remove from heat and stir in the salt and pepper. Add the avocado-onion paste and whisk together until uniform and creamy. The key word here, if you haven't guessed, is smooth. Season with more salt and pepper to taste.
4. Add the pasta and cilantro the sauce and stir together. Dice the last avocado and toss together with the mac and cheese. Serve immediately with a splash of lime juice.