This recipe was inspired by a dinner conversation with my friend Melissa Knific of Family Circle. We both love Mac n Cheese...and figs! As most cooks do, we threw around ideas for a new way to do the dish. This is the result - a really cheesy, layered mac n cheese with delicious, caramelized onions and slightly sweet figs in the center. If you want, feel free to add in crumbled walnuts to the topping. I often do that for dinner parties or holiday gatherings.
- 1 lb. orecchiette pasta
- 2 cups dried figs, stems removed and quartered
- 1 cup water
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium sweet onions, sliced very thin
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter + 2 Tablespoons, melted
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- 2½ cups whole milk
- 1½ cup gruyere, grated
- 1½ cup fontina, grated
- 4 oz. goat cheese, broken into pieces
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
For the topping
- ¼ cup bread crumbs
- ¼ cup finely grated Parmesan
- 1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped + 2 branches for garnish
- ¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
Place the figs and water in a small pot and bring to a simmer on medium heat. Cook 20-30 minutes until soft.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add in the orecchiette and cook 10-12 minutes until al dente. Drain in a colander. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add in the onions and cook 12-15 minutes until browned and soft. Stir in the figs with any remaining liquid. Let cook 2-3 minutes more. Remove from heat.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Melt the butter in a large pot on medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Continue whisking while pouring in the milk. Cook 4-5 minutes until slightly thickened. Stir in the cheese and salt and pepper. Add in the pasta and fold together.
To make the topping, mix together the bread crumbs, parmesan and rosemary in a small bowl. Stir in the melted butter to moisten.
Lightly spray the bottom and sides of a large, deep baking dish with cooking spray. Spoon half of the mac n cheese into the dish. Layer on the figs and onions, spreading evenly with the back of a spoon. Add in the remaining mac and cheese. Evenly sprinkle on the topping.
Place in the middle of the oven and bake 40-45 minutes until the crust is golden. Turn once halfway through to ensure even browning.
Let sit 5-7 minutes. Garnish top with rosemary branches.