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Creamy Carrot Mac 'N' Cheese Fake-Out with Carrot Top Drizzle

Creamy Carrot Mac 'N' Cheese Fake-Out with Carrot Top Drizzle


Carrot Sauce

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil

  • 1 lb. carrots with leafy tops, peeled and cut on an angle into 1/2-inch pieces (save the tops for the drizzle)

  • Salt and finely ground white or black pepper

  • 1-inch piece of fresh turmeric, peeled and grated, or 1 tsp. (about 1/3 palmful) ground turmeric

  • 1 tsp. cayenne hot sauce (I like Frank’s RedHot)

  • 1 tsp. each (about 1/3 palmful) ground coriander and dry mustard

  • 3 cloves garlic—thinly sliced, grated, or chopped

  • 1 tsp. each orange zest and lemon zest (from 1 orange and 1 lemon)

  • ½ cup white wine

  • ½ cup vegetable stock

Carrot Top Drizzle

  • 1 cup (packed) leafy carrot tops

  • A fat handful of fresh mint leaves

  • ¼ cup fresh tarragon leaves

  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice (from about 1/2 lemon)

  • 1 fat clove garlic, crushed

  • 1 tsp. (about 1/3 palmful) crushed red pepper or 1 jalapeño chile, seeded

  • ⅓ cup EVOO

  • Salt

To Finish

  • Salt

  • 1 lb. penne (semolina or gluten-free corn) or other short cut pasta (such as conchiglie, farfalle, or short fusilli)

  • 1 jar (4 oz.) chopped pimientos, drained

  • Upland cress, edible flowers, and toasted pine nuts, for serving (optional)


  • Step 1

    Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta.

  • Step 2

    In a large heavy skillet with a lid, heat the olive oil, about two turns of the pan, over medium to medium-high. Add the carrots; season with salt and white pepper. Add the turmeric, hot sauce, coriander, and mustard. Cover and cook, stirring often, until the carrots are crisp-tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the garlic and the orange and lemon zests. Add the wine and cook, stirring often, until absorbed, about 1 minute. Add the stock. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, stirring often, until the carrots are tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a blender. Puree the carrots until creamy, about 30 seconds; season the carrot sauce with salt.

  • Step 3

    For the drizzle, in a food processor, pulse the carrot tops, mint, tarragon, lemon juice, garlic, and crushed red pepper until finely chopped. With the machine running, gradually add the EVOO; season the carrot top drizzle with salt.

  • Step 4

    Salt the boiling water and add the pasta. Cook until al dente. Scoop out about 3/4 cup of the starchy cooking water. Drain the pasta. Return the pasta and cooking water to the pot. Stir in the carrot sauce and pimientos; season.

  • Step 5

    Top the pasta with some of the carrot top drizzle and cress, edible flowers, and/or toasted pine nuts (if using).