Shrimp, Feta and Fresh Herb Mac and Cheese
Ever since discovering my love of Greek food last year, I have been all about feta cheese. I like it on salads, I love it with shrimp – I just think it’s great. When I ran across this version of mac and cheese that featured feta, I was instantly a fan. The combination of the shrimp, lemon zest, and fresh herbs made for a unique spin on mac and cheese that sounded just perfect. This was just as good as I was expecting, and I think the flavors make it ideal for spring.
I made a few small changes to suit my own preferences, including reducing the amount of milk to produce a cheesier sauce and chopping up the shrimp so there was some in almost every bite. I also decreased the amount of lemon zest because zesting two whole lemons just seemed like overkill, and I thought the lemon was still quite prominent even with my change (but in a good way, not a pucker-your-lips way). Delish!
Yield: about 6-8 servings
1 lb. pasta shapes
1 lb. raw shrimp (31-40 ct.), peeled and deveined, cut in half (if desired)
10 oz. feta cheese, crumbled and divided
Zest of 1 lemon, divided
½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped, divided
5 tbsp. butter, divided
4 tbsp. all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
2 tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
8 oz. Gruyere cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta until al dente according to the package directions. Drain well; set aside. Add the raw shrimp to the warm pasta and toss together. The heat from the pasta will partially cook the shrimp.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400˚ F. In a small bowl, combine a handful of the feta, a pinch of the lemon zest, the panko, 2 teaspoons of the parsley and 1 tablespoon of the butter, melted. Toss with a fork to combine; set aside.
In a medium saucepan, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Once the butter is melted, whisk in the flour to form a paste. Cook 1-2 minutes, whisking constantly, until light golden brown. Whisk in the milk. Continue to heat the mixture, stirring frequently, until it bubbles and thickens, about 5 minutes. As soon as the sauce has thickened, remove from the heat and stir in the remaining feta, Gruyere, remaining parsley, remaining lemon zest, dill, salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the pasta and shrimp; toss well to coat.
Transfer the mixture to a lightly greased 2½ or 3-quart baking dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumb-feta mixture evenly over the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned and bubbling. Remove from the oven and let cool 5-10 minutes before serving.