Mac and cheese cures all.

White Cheddar + Arugula Pesto Mac and Cheese I


…tantrumy husbands.

…tantrumy toddlers.

…which are pretty much the same thing.

…rainy days.

…sad faces.

…loose jeans.


You know, like HUGE things!

White Cheddar + Arugula Pesto Mac and Cheese I

This makes my head spin.

White Cheddar + Arugula Pesto Mac and Cheese I

Lots o’ green stuff.

A little peppery and almost neon… this arugula pesto took one of my favorite crispy shrimp dishes to a whole new level last year. Basil pesto, what? I don’t even know you anymore. This was one of the first recipes I ever shared (hellllo freaky pictures) and still makes the top ten of which I whip up just about every month to have on hand.

People… It rarely happens. Like, never. Because boredom calls to me like a creeper in the night.

White Cheddar + Arugula Pesto Mac and Cheese I

And while I think that mac and cheese is simply perfect on it’s own… that whole boredom creep grabs me and sometimes I torture the pasta.

Good torture, I promise.

Like, adding an arugula pesto swirl type of torture.

Otherwise known as… ruining-my-husband’s-side-dish-torture.

Otherwise known as… one of the only things I succeed at in my itty bitty life.

White Cheddar + Arugula Pesto Mac and Cheese I

We served this with the maple bourbon pork chops and those brussels sprouts I’ll tell you about later, and holy FLAVOR POP. And while I pretty much watched him attempt to pick out every single solitary speck of pesto (can this be done?), he soon gave up and scarfed it. And was happy.

Leading me to believe that just as I thought… I am always right. Today marriage is great.*

White Cheddar + Arugula Pesto Mac and Cheese I

Arugula Pesto and White Cheddar Mac and Cheese

serves 4-6

4 cups uncooked whole wheat pasta (smallish pasta works best, like elbow noodles, etc)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups milk

1/4 cup heavy cream

10 ounces freshly grated white cheddar cheese + more for topping

pinch of nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

1/3 cup arugula pesto 

1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Bring water to a boil and cook pasta according to directions. I always shave a few minutes off the cooking time since it will be going in the oven.

While pasta is cooking, heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Once sizzling, add flour and whisk until smooth to create a roux. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until golden and has a nutty aroma. Add milk and cream, bring to a boil while constantly whisking. Reduce heat to low and add cheese, then cook for a few minutes while stirring until cheese is melted and mixture thickens. Add nutmeg, then taste and season with salt and pepper as desired.

Add pasta to a baking dish and pour cheese sauce over top. Stir to distribute sauce, then stir in pesto. Top with additional grated cheese and breadcrumbs. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until top is golden and bubbly.


Arugula Pesto

4 cups arugula

1/3 cup asiago cheese

3 garlic cloves

1/4 cup olive oil

In a food processor, combine garlic, arugula and cheese. Pulse until combined. Stream in olive oil a tablespoon at a time until the pesto becomes smooth.

White Cheddar + Arugula Pesto Mac and Cheese I

*I made this over a week ago. I’ve since changed my stance.

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114 Responses to “White Cheddar + Arugula Pesto Mac and Cheese.”

  1. #
    Ali @ Peaches and Football — January 25, 2012 @ 8:02 am

    I love mac and cheese – it really is a comfort food! Would you believe pesto scares me? Not sure why, maybe the green color? This sounds fab even without the pesto though – at least to me! :)


    • Jessica — January 25th, 2012 @ 8:03 am

      Do not be afraid! Trust me!


  2. #
    Kathryn — January 25, 2012 @ 8:03 am

    I have only recently discovered that it’s possible to add something other than cheese to macaroni and cheese. I think this revelation might change my life.


  3. #
    Laura — January 25, 2012 @ 8:04 am

    My favorite part of this post? The asterisk used for “clarification”.



  4. #
    Erika - The Teenage Taste — January 25, 2012 @ 8:04 am

    That macaroni and cheese looks fabulous! Your photography looks especially exceptional today too. Love that you gave traditional macaroni and cheese a more mature taste! :-D


  5. #
    Amanda @ Thinly Sliced Cucumber — January 25, 2012 @ 8:10 am

    Arugula pesto kicks basil pesto’s butt any day! That spicy bite that it has is pretty much good with any dish. You’re photos are totally making my mouth water. It’s only 7 in the morning and suddenly I want mac n’ cheese :)


  6. #
    The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh — January 25, 2012 @ 8:11 am

    Argula is a vegetable, which automatically makes this healthy. Yep. ;)


  7. #
    Mr. How Sweet — January 25, 2012 @ 8:11 am

    At the * I was thinking, “give me time, I will screw up.”


  8. #
    Erica — January 25, 2012 @ 8:24 am

    Mac and cheese totally cures alllll. I’m telling you, that lobster mac and cheese we had this weekend must have had bacon in it- you would have been in love! I like the pesto addition, because pesto really rocks. It can be used in so many ways. I love that Mr. How Sweet comments as Mr. How Sweet


  9. #
    Kim in MD — January 25, 2012 @ 8:25 am

    Oh my gosh, that second to last photo (with the blue bowl) made me drool. Seriously. I want this for breakfast! Oh, and I laughed when you said you changed your stance (about marriage)! Ha! Ha!


  10. #
    Tabitha (From Single to Married) — January 25, 2012 @ 8:27 am

    mmmm…. I agree – mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food! Love the idea of adding pesto too!


  11. #
    chelsey @ clean eating chelsey — January 25, 2012 @ 8:29 am

    I love Mr. How Sweet’s comment – HILARIOUS!!

    I think one of my favorite things I’ve ever made was pesto mac n cheese – i actually still have some sauce hanging out in my freezer. That has to end.


  12. #
    Cassie — January 25, 2012 @ 8:30 am

    I loved my arugula pesto but you definitely kicked it up with asiago. Perfect for mac and cheese!


  13. #
    Becca — January 25, 2012 @ 8:38 am

    would love to read more, but i’ll have to go buy arugula NOW!


  14. #
    Heather (Heather's Dish) — January 25, 2012 @ 8:43 am

    thank goodness mac and cheese cures the loose pants problem…i have such HUGE problems with that…psych! :)


  15. #
    idiosyncratic eye — January 25, 2012 @ 8:57 am

    Mmmmmmm. :)


  16. #
    Elizabeth @ the kitchen counsel — January 25, 2012 @ 9:08 am

    while i made kale pesto last week (which was delicious), i’ve only ever used arugula as a salad filler or a pizza topper. this has inspired me though. arugula is definitely getting added to the shopping list this week.


  17. #
    Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat — January 25, 2012 @ 9:11 am

    If your blue bowl is from Crate & Barrel, then I have the exact same one and am currently eating cereal and fruit out of it! Although now I kind of wish it was mac and cheese… ;)


  18. #
    Lauren at Keep It Sweet — January 25, 2012 @ 9:16 am

    Mac and Cheese does cure all, although unfortunately I don’t have the problem of loose pants right now…


  19. #
    Maria — January 25, 2012 @ 9:16 am

    Love this version of Mac and Cheese! Must try!


  20. #
    skye @ neathering our fest — January 25, 2012 @ 9:17 am

    This is something I think I could make that would get my tantrumy husband to EAT green stuff. This looks delish! :)


  21. #
    Molly @ RDexposed — January 25, 2012 @ 9:22 am

    My head explodes every time I read your recipe titles!


  22. #
    Becca@learnasyougocook — January 25, 2012 @ 9:24 am

    Yes seven is not a good time to want Mac n cheese..


  23. #
    Kelly — January 25, 2012 @ 9:25 am

    Want to hear something disgusting? I am not a fan of homemade mac n cheese because I life the powdered stir in cheese from KRAFT. I know…such a disgrace.


  24. #
    Lauren @ Healthy Food For Living — January 25, 2012 @ 9:36 am

    I’m all about playing around with different types of pesto (I will be posting a recipe for kale walnut pesto tomorrow) and this arugula version looks great… especially when paired with mac & cheese!


  25. #
    Joan — January 25, 2012 @ 9:40 am

    I can’t tell you how I agree with every single word of this post. Mac is the cure all. And we are in that same phase in my house: good for whiney husbands and toddlers alike! And as you stated, we women are always right. Whether it’s a dish’s flavor popping or directions on how to get somewhere or what is the best brand of toilet paper. Men just don’t pay attention. I love this post and recipe and have the ingredients on my shopping list for tonight! Thanks, I love your blog. :)


  26. #
    Bev Weidner — January 25, 2012 @ 9:45 am

    SNUUUUGGGLLLLEE is what I want to do inside that dish.


  27. #
    Fahad Khan (@PharaohKhan) — January 25, 2012 @ 9:47 am

    I love the idea!


  28. #
    Emilie @ Emilie's Enjoyables — January 25, 2012 @ 9:47 am

    I NEED to try this arugula pesto!


  29. #
    Alyse — January 25, 2012 @ 9:48 am

    Under most circumstances I do not like asiago cheese. I know, I’m crazy. But, I have to try this pesto. I love arugula so I am thinking they will make a very good pairing.

    And to Mr. How Sweet — You couldn’t possibly screw up too badly. Look at all the yummy things she still makes for you.


  30. #
    Liz @ Tip Top Shape — January 25, 2012 @ 9:48 am

    Oohh, this looks fantastic!!!


  31. #
    Jourdan — January 25, 2012 @ 10:03 am

    OH MAN! this looks so good at 9 am!!! and it reminds me that i need to make the arugula pesto pasta w/ crispy shrimp again! (along with this mac & cheese of course!) yum


  32. #
    Urban Wife — January 25, 2012 @ 10:10 am

    Gah, I just wanna face plant in that mac & cheese!


  33. #
    Lori @ RecipeGirl — January 25, 2012 @ 10:23 am

    I expected it to be totally green, but it turned out to be a pleasant pestoey color instead. I love arugula, so arugula pesto is a great idea combined w/ the MAC. Mmmm.


  34. #
    Rachel @ Not Rachael Ray — January 25, 2012 @ 10:26 am

    Looks SO amazing! I could love on mac and cheese.


  35. #
    Kristin — January 25, 2012 @ 10:34 am

    This really makes me regret bypassing the cheese at the grocery yesterday.


  36. #
    Maria — January 25, 2012 @ 10:35 am

    seriously, I think you’re reading my mind lately. you keep combining my all time favs with my current obsessions.. aka buffalo anything, plus SOUP! and now mac&cheese plus PESTO? Going to continue that trend by combining you with pinterest. haha


  37. #
    Katie — January 25, 2012 @ 10:35 am

    I have such a love for arugula right now…I think (I’m telling myself) you made this juuuust for me. Thank you!


  38. #
    Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers — January 25, 2012 @ 10:38 am

    Nothing beats mac and cheese! But you took it up to the next level! Mac & Chees has been on my mind lately, and then you post this lovely dish. I love the idea of arugula pesto, it’s such a nice peppery sauce. Thanks for always changing it up!!


  39. #
    DessertForTwo — January 25, 2012 @ 10:39 am

    Yum! I love healthy greens in a not-so-healthy dish!


  40. #
    Cait's Plate — January 25, 2012 @ 10:43 am

    My head feels like it’s going to explode with want for this dish right now. It honestly looks like the best thing ever (and I know I say that about everything you make…but it’s for real this time…at least until your next post when I say it again :) )


  41. #
    Andrea @ The Skinny Chronicles — January 25, 2012 @ 10:57 am

    Tantrumy husbands are the worst. Suggested wine pairing?


  42. #
    Gina @ Running to the Kitchen — January 25, 2012 @ 11:14 am

    The color of that pesto is almost unreal. PS- love Mr. How Sweet’s comment. So something my husband would say too. ;)


  43. #
    Erin — January 25, 2012 @ 11:26 am

    Mac and cheese is definitely a cure-all. And this dish alone would be enough to satisfy but with that pork and brussels too? I would be floating away in complete bliss.


  44. #
    Christina @ This Woman Cooks! — January 25, 2012 @ 11:29 am

    Delicious and nearly nutritious!


  45. #
    Elizabeth @ Chronic Venture — January 25, 2012 @ 11:34 am

    b-e-a-utiful! yum yum yum!


  46. #
    Cat @Breakfast to Bed — January 25, 2012 @ 11:39 am

    ohhhhhhhhh yes. I live for your foodporn and to make these recipes.


  47. #
    Laurie {Simply Scratch} — January 25, 2012 @ 11:43 am

    I say the same exact thing about wine! Just imagine all we could conquer if we had a few bottles of wine AND this mac & cheese…together! World peace? poverty… omg… let’s get on it!


  48. #
    joelle (on a pink typewriter) — January 25, 2012 @ 11:59 am

    How faaaancy BUT also comforting at the same time, I like it!


  49. #
    Ashley — January 25, 2012 @ 12:14 pm

    HAhahaa, cures loose jeans! LOVE the vivid green in the first photo!


  50. #
    Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga — January 25, 2012 @ 12:14 pm

    I want a big bowl of that pesto…I am thinking it would be fabulous on just about anything from crackers to sort of like a salad dressing.




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