Goat Cheese Pesto Mac (And 20 Other Mac Recipes)

A year or so ago, I stumbled on a list of 20 ways to get creative with mac ‘n’ cheese. We made several of these, and I’ll go over the list briefly at the end, with our thoughts. The only one that really stuck – because seriously, how many mac n’ cheese recipes does one family need? (We use two, this and Alton Brown’s Mac and Cheese) – is the Pesto Mac and Goat Cheese.

Alton’s Mac ‘n’ Cheese – our other favorite. Especially with shrimp.

The original recipe for the Goat Cheese Pesto Mac is here. Unfortunately there are some things I want to set straight about the recipe (my apologies to the author, this is just one woman’s opinion).
The first thing it says is to preheat the broiler. Maybe I am missing something here, but to me, the broiler is the part with the flames. And it’s either on or off – no preheating needed. So skip that part.The first thing to do it start boiling the water. Then make the bread crumbs-pesto mix: I don’t even bother putting it on the stove, just melt the butter in the microwave and mix it all in a bowl and set aside. It’s gonna get cooked under the broiler anyway. After that, I follow the instruction as they are.

Pesto Mac and Cheese before breadcrumb mixture

This dish can be a little pricey unless you can get goat cheese on the cheap. This is why we only have this meal when we go to Costco, which is maybe six times a year. It cuts back on making this cheat meal too often, keeps it a special treat and helps not to break the bank. I hope you enjoy it, too.

With breadcrumb mixture, before browning
Browned and served, om nom nom

Here are my synopses of the other mac n’ cheeses (full list here):
1. Beefy Macaroni and Cheese: Lackluster, the palate lacked interest. I had to douse it in hot sauce just feel like it had a taste.
2. Buffalo Chicken Mac: A bit of a letdown. It had a few too many steps to be good for a weeknight. Also it was kind of hard to keep the batter on the chicken. Actually, I’m not convinced mac ‘n’ cheese needs more carbs anyway.
3. Caramelized Sweet Potato, Garlic and Rosemary Macaroni and Cheese: Sounds great, haven’t tried it.
4. Carrot Macaroni and Cheese: Surprisingly good in a mild way. However, since mac n’ cheese isn’t healthy enough to be anything but a cheat meal for me, there’s not much impetus to make this “healthy” version.
5. Cornbread and Apple Topped Macaroni and Cheese: Haven’t tried it, still skeptical about adding bread to noodles. There’s cheating and then there’s gratuitous use of refined carbs.
6. Deep Fried Mac and Cheese: Been there and done that, though not with this particular recipe.  *shrug* It’s tasty, but doesn’t really jive with my goal of having clear skin and not gaining 20 lbs a year.

Mac ‘n’ cheese ball ready for frying… yikes.

7. Four Cheese Mac-a-Rita Cocktail: I was offended by the name and presentation and then never made it. Mac-a-rita? A margarita glass will never make mac ‘n’ cheese upscale, sorry.
8. Gorgonzola and Apple Macaroni and Cheese: Sounds great, never tried it.
9. Lobster Mac n’ Cheese: Also sounds great, also never tried.
10. Mac and Cheese Paella with Shrimp and Scallops: I love seafood, but referring to mac ‘n’ cheese as paella confuses me. Also, the photo is a turnoff. Good ingredients list though, maybe I will try it sometime soon. If I get tempted away from our two fave mac recipes. If.
11. Macaroni and Cheese Pie: No appeal to me, sorry.
12. Macaroni and Cheese Pizza: Just go to Stevi B’s or Cici’s. Really. They have this there, and it’s cheaper and probably not worse for your health. Carbs plus carbs again.
13. Neapolitan Macaroni and Cheese: Looks tasty, never tried it.
14. Pesto Mac n’ Goat Cheese: OM NOM NOM. See giant diatribe above.
15. Polka Dot Mac and Cheese: Yawn.
16. Neapolitan Mac and Cheese: Sounds really appealing to me, but for some reason not enough to make it. Maybe with something other than bacon as the protein. (Wow, never thought I’d ever say that!) I’ll have to try this one next tiem we have an excess of cheddar around the house.
17. Souffleed Macaroni and Cheese: Seems similar to Alton Brown’s recipe and therefore I have not tried to make it.
18. Spicy Mac n’ Cheese: I make everything spicy anyway. 🙂
19. Tex Mex Mac n’ Cheese: Despite the carbs plus carbs angle, we tried this. It was very mushy, but very, very good. I loved it. In fact, I loved it so much I scared myself away and never made it again, because who needs an addiction to mac ‘n’ cheese with 6 tortillas in it?
20. Vegan Mac and Cheese: It had the word vegan and I stopped reading. Sorry. At least I am honest about it, right?

Has anyone tried any of the recipes on the list? Do you have a favorite twist on mac ‘n’ cheese that you’ve come across? Is Kraft macaroni and cheese indeed the cheesiest?


Nerd. Foodie. Gamer. Homecook. Perpetual planner. Gardener. Aspiring homesteader. Direct response graphic designer. I use too many damn commas.