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tortellini mac and cheese with roasted garlic and rosemary

Quick post today! Last month, we were invited to an intimate multi-course dinner and cooking demo hosted by Barilla and pasta expert Nancy Silverton, chef and co-owner of the world-famous Osteria Mozza in Hollywood, CA. Inspired by her main course—Baked Barilla Collezione Tortellini with White Truffles—we created an original dish using some of the tips we learned from Nancy that evening. Introducing… Tortellini Mac and Cheese with Roasted Garlic and Rosemary! Cooked to perfection and blended in a creamy, cheesy sauce made with roasted garlic, three types of cheeses, and fresh rosemary, this elegant pasta dish is also topped with toasted breadcrumbs for a delightful golden crunch. We are taking mac and cheese to a whole new level, people. Make this comforting entrée tonight and add it to this year’s holiday menu!

Tortellini Mac and Cheese with Roasted Garlic and Rosemary
Serves 4 to 6

For the seasoned breadcrumbs:
1/4 cup (22 g) panko breadcrumbs
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
pinch of salt

For the sauce and pasta:
2 heads of garlic, unpeeled and left whole
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons (15 g) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (30 g) unsalted butter
3/4 cup (175 ml) milk of your choice
two 6-inch sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 1/2 ounces (43 g / about 6 tablespoons) grated fontina cheese
1 ounce (28 g / about 1/4 cup) grated parmesan cheese
1 ounce (28 g / about 1/4 cup) grated pecorino romano cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (60 ml) whipping cream, plus a few tablespoons more if needed
one 12-ounce (340 g) package Barilla Collezione Three Cheese Tortellini

To make the seasoned breadcrumbs:
Place the panko breadcrumbs in a cool dry skillet. Set over medium-low heat and cook until very lightly toasted and just beginning to turn golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a heat-proof bowl, then add the black pepper and salt, and stir until evenly mixed. Set aside.

To make the sauce and pasta:
First, roast the garlic. Preheat oven to 400°F/204°C, and cut two 8-inch squares of aluminum foil. Remove any loose paper from the garlic heads while leaving them intact. Cut off the top 1/4-inch of the heads, exposing the tops of the individual cloves. Place each head on a separate square of foil, cut side up, and drizzle the tops of each head with about a teaspoon of olive oil, letting the oil drip down into the cloves. Lift the four corners of the foil squares and enclose the garlic tightly, forming two sealed packets. Place the foil packets directly on the oven rack and bake for 40 minutes. Let cool briefly before opening, as the steam inside can be quite hot. Once cool enough to handle safely, unwrap the foil packets, and squeeze the soft cloves out of the papery skins into a small bowl. Use the back of a spoon to mash the cloves into a paste. Set aside.

Meanwhile, as the garlic is roasting in the oven, fill a large pot with 4 to 5 quarts of water, adding a teaspoon of salt for each quart of water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat while you make the sauce.

To make the sauce, first place the butter in a small saucepan. Set the pan over low heat, and once the butter is melted, add the flour, whisking to combine into a paste. Cook for 5 minutes, whisking almost constantly to prevent scorching, until the mixture is a golden blonde color with a slightly nutty aroma. While whisking, add the milk in a slow stream—it will steam vigorously at first, so be careful—and continue to whisk until all the milk is added and the mixture is evenly blended with no lumps. Add the whole sprigs of rosemary, and use a wooden spoon to stir them in. Continue to simmer over low heat, stirring often, until the mixture is thick and creamy, about 8 to 10 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta in the pot of boiling water according to package directions until al dente, usually about 9 to 10 minutes.

Once the sauce has finished simmering, remove and discard the rosemary sprigs, and remove the pan from heat. Add the fontina, parmesan, pecorino, and salt, and stir vigorously until smooth and creamy. Add the cream in a slow stream, and continue to stir until blended. Add the roasted garlic paste and stir to combine. If the sauce seems too thick, add additional cream a tablespoon or two at a time until the desired consistency is reached. Taste for salt and adjust if needed. Cover to keep warm until the pasta is ready.

When the pasta is al dente, drain it and return the pasta to the pan. Add the cream sauce and stir gently to evenly coat the pasta without breaking up the tortellini. Transfer to individual serving bowls, and top each one with a generous spoonful of the seasoned breadcrumbs. Serve immediately while hot, and enjoy!