“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” -Virginia Woolf
This post was sponsored by The Feedfeed and BelGioioso, but all words, opinions, and romantic feelings towards cheese are my own.
I remember one of the first times I had fresh Mozzarella. It was on one of the countless summer nights my siblings and I spent at my Aunt’s home in Ojai. Hanging with our cousins, running through the gardens, swimming in the pool, gorging on all the food they bought that we never did. Why is eating at other people’s homes so thrilling as a kid? I loved that they had fruit snacks, and granola bars, and Italian ice pops in the freezer. They always had sodas, and sparkling water, and cranberry juice in the fridge. It felt like a vacation.
Our favorite nights were the ones we each made our own personal pizzas—what luxury! My aunt and uncle would buy pre-made mini pizza dough, tons of toppings, and balls of whole milk mozzarella. Now, I was far more accustomed to the dry shreds of grated mozzarella most households always had on hand. The kind that doesn’t really melt so much as it softens while retaining its exact shape. So this milky, fresh, orb of cheese was a revelation to me. It felt different. It tasted different. And it melted in mesmerizing milky white pools. I always used far too much and it got everywhere. Each bite of pizza ensured stretched cheese strands longer than my arms could reach. Pizza nights in Ojai, I remember them fondly.
Years later and I still love fresh Mozzarella, it’s not the kind of thing you can go back from. It’s like crossing the Rubicon. The point of no return. Once you’ve had good cheese (or wine, or steak, or produce for that matter) it’s hard for life to return to what it once was. Suddenly in-season tomatoes are essential. A good bottle of red is a must. And the best cheese you can afford seems to be a necessity. Dine well, words to live by.
On that note, I have to say I’m thrilled to have partnered with BelGioioso to use their incredible cheeses in one of the best mac and cheese recipes I’ve made to date! I love that their products are steeped in history and tradition—that the recipes are passed through the generations. They treat cheesemaking as an art and it shows! I used a combination of their Fresh Milk Mozzarella and their Burrata to make the creamiest, cheesiest béchamel I’ve ever tasted.
Their delicate Fresh Mozzarella and rich, creamy Burrata melted effortlessly into the sauce—infused with an entire bulb of roasted garlic. Then I mixed in a blend of sautéed mushrooms and sundried tomatoes and poured it all over some fresh pasta. I found myself sneaking bites out of the pan, reminiscing about summer pizza nights. I served it with a generous helping of burrata, some toasted bread crumbs, roasted tomatoes, and a drizzle of my homemade basil oil. Decadent, indulgent, full of flavors—the kind of meal that lingers in the mind and on the tongue long after it’s gone.
Do you remember the first time you tried an ingredient or meal that changed the way you looked at food? That fateful moment where food became something more than just something you consumed for survival? Leave a comment below.
Fresh Mozzarella, Burrata, & Mushroom Mac with Roasted and Sun Dried Tomatoes
- Olive oil
- Salt and Pepper
- 20 oz. mushrooms, sliced
- 6 oz. sundried tomatoes
- 10-12 oz. pasta
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- ¼ cup flour
- 1/8 tsp. white pepper
- ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
- 2 ½ cups whole milk
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 bulb roasted garlic, cloves smashed (recipe follows)
- 4 oz. BelGioioso Burrata, torn into small pieces
- 6 oz. BelGioioso Fresh Mozzarella, grated
- BelGioioso Burrata
- Toasted breadcrumbs
- Roasted tomatoes (recipe follows)
- Basil oil (recipe follows)
- Fresh basil
In a large skillet heat 2 Tbsp. Olive oil on medium-high heat. Add in sliced mushrooms and sauté until golden and tender. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. It might be best to cook the mushrooms in two batches so they can brown rather than steam in their own juices.
Rough chop sun dried tomatoes and set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions.
While pasta is cooking make the béchamel.
In a large sauce pan melt butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
Whisk in flour and cook about two minutes until light, golden brown in color. Add in pepper and cayenne and cook another 30 seconds or so.
Carefully pour in half the milk, whisking continually.
Add in the rest of the milk and whisk in the garlic, salt, and let thicken for about 6-8 minutes, stirring frequently. Keep an eye on it to ensure it doesn’t burn or stick to the bottom of the pan.
Turn heat to low, add in both cheeses, and whisk until completely melted.
In a large baking dish, or the pot you cooked the pasta in, combine, pasta, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, and béchamel. Mix until well incorporated.
At this point you can top with burrata and put in the oven for 5-7 minutes @ 400°F to melt the cheese, if you’d like.
Serve right away topped with roasted tomatoes, basil oil, fresh basil, and toasted breadcrumbs! Enjoy!
You can prepare all the following elements ahead of time!
To make the Roasted Garlic
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Cut off the top of a bulb of garlic, about ¼ inch. Drizzle with olive oil and wrap in foil. I always make a few to have for other recipes.Place in a small baking dish to avoid oil dripping.
Bake for about 30-45 minutes (depending on the size of your bulb) or until cloves are golden brown. Allow to cool before handling.
To Make the Roasted Tomatoes
In a deep baking dish combine two cups of cherry tomatoes and ½ cup olive oil.
Season with salt and pepper and bake at 300°F for 40-50 minutes until tomatoes are bursting and juicy. Leftover oil can be used for cooking, or in dressings or sauces.
To Make the Basil Oil
In a medium sauce pan combine two cups of good quality olive oil with two cups of basil leaves.
Bring to a gentle simmer over low heat and cook for about about 2-3 minutes. You don’t want to burn the basil, just infuse the oil with its flavor.
Let oil cool, transfer to a blender or food processor and blend until completely combined.
Strain through cheese cloth folded over 4 times. Pour into an airtight container.
Will keep in the fridge for about a week or two.