This recipe, from Lucy Waverman, is a more sophisticated, more interesting version of mac ‘n’ cheese. I leave out the pancetta and it’s still yummy. Also, when I have trouble finding San Simon or smoked mozzarella, I cheat by using plain mozzarella and adding a little smoked paprika. 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced pancetta (optional)
  • 2 large Spanish or sweet onions, sliced thinly
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound orecchiette (little ears) pasta
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • 8 ounces grated San Simon or smoked mozarella
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 350F.

If using pancetta (if not, go to next step), sauté in a small skillet over medium heat for 3 minutes or until crisped and golden. Drain on paper towels and reserve.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and salt them immediately. Sauté for 3 minutes or until coated in oil. Turn heat to medium-low and cook onions for 30 – 40 minutes or until they become a thick, golden mass. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add orecchiette and boil until al dente. Drain immediately and transfer to a bowl. Stir in cream, butter, 1/2 cup Parmesan, onions and smoked cheese. Season.

Transfer to a buttered baking dish, sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan and dot with butter. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until pasta is hot and top is slightly browned.

serves 6