Food&Wine suggested it, and it sounded like a good idea. It was great. Adding the pureed carrots really lightened the dish, and made it less stuffing. The carrots also imparted a lovely color. Instead of real cheese, I used soy cheese from Trader Joe’s. I thought I had elbow macaroni in the pantry, but I was wrong. Instead I used some thin egg noodles I had, and I loved the results. It was perfect with grape tomatoes on the side.
Carrot macaroni and “cheese”
3/4 pound carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
juice of 1 navel orange
3 cups penne rigate (9 ounces) (or any other pasta you have handy will do, too)
3 ounces shredded soy cheese (1 1/2 cups)
1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In medium saucepan, combine the carrots with the juice and 1/4 cup water. Season with salt and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over medium heat until the carrots are very soft, about 30 minutes. Transfer the carrots and liquid to a blender and puree until very smooth.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
Return the pasta to the pot. Add the reserved water and the carrot puree and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until the pasta is coated with a thickened sauce, about 5 minutes. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese and cook, stirring, until very creamy, about 2 – 3 minutes longer. Stir in the tarragon and season with salt and pepper.
Transfer the pasta to a medium baking dish (sprayed) and top with remaining cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted and lightly browned, about 20 – 25 minutes. Makes 4 – 6 servings.