Mac and Cheese with Pecan Breadcrumbs

(Family Features) Seeking comfort from the cold in the form of a wholesome meal is a perfect way to cap off a day with loved ones. During the winter months when brisk temperatures chill you to the bone, warming up with hearty dishes at the family table can bring everyone together.

With cheddar and ricotta cheeses, sour cream, and cavatappi noodles, this Mac and Cheese with Pecan Breadcrumbs is an extra creamy, creative twist on the kid-friendly classic. Pair this family favorite with the pork tenderloin for an easy weeknight combination that little ones can help with in the kitchen by stirring together the cheesy goodness.

This family dinner is made possible with tasty pecans, which are among the lowest in carbs and highest in fiber compared to other tree nuts, helping you stay fuller longer. As a nutrient-dense powerhouse, they have 3 grams of plant-based protein and 3 grams of fiber per 1-ounce serving with 12 grams of “good” monounsaturated fat and only 2 grams of saturated fat. Essential nutrients like thiamin, zinc, copper, and manganese – a mineral that’s essential for metabolism and bone health – mean you can feel good about serving pecan-infused dishes to your loved ones.

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Mac and Cheese with Pecan Breadcrumbs

Total time: 50 minutes
Servings: 6

8 ounces cavatappi pasta
1 tablespoon butter
1 block (8 ounces) cheddar cheese
1/2 cup raw pecan pieces
15 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
4 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In salted boiling water, cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking water. Return pasta to pot and stir in butter.

Using a box grater, shred cheddar cheese.

Using a food processor, process 1/4 cup shredded cheese with pecans to coarse breadcrumb consistency.

Add remaining cheddar cheese, ricotta, sour cream, salt, and pepper to warm pasta. Stir until thoroughly combined. Add egg; stir. Add reserved pasta water to loosen the mixture; stir until smooth.

Pour into buttered 9-inch square or round casserole dish and top evenly with pecan topping.

Bake 30 minutes.


Source: American Pecan Council