In Partnership WithCalifornia Walnuts

This Ingredient Changes Mac & Cheese Forever

updated Jan 4, 2021
Sponsored by California Walnuts
Walnut Mac and Roquefort Cheese and Sage
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Credit: Christopher Broe

You might not think to hit the nut aisle when you’re craving mac and cheese, but you should. Most mac and cheese recipes rely on roux, a cooked flour and butter mixture that helps thicken the sauce but doesn’t impart much flavor. Swap the roux out for California walnuts, and you’ve got a thick and creamy sauce with nutrition and robust flavor. Add some Roquefort blue cheese and fresh sage to the shopping cart, and you have the makings for a fancy — and surprisingly quick — winter-themed mac and cheese.

Cooking the pasta is the first step here, and you want to be sure to save a whopping three cups of the pasta water before you drain it. A good amount of this hot, starchy elixir is the base of the no-cook sauce and very important. (If you think you might forget, try this neat tip!) Combine it with a few big handfuls of crunchy California walnuts, some pungent blue cheese, and a little fresh sage in the food processor or blender (your choice!), then watch it magically transform into a thick, rich, and luscious cheese sauce.

Credit: Christopher Broe

Stir the cheese sauce into the hot pasta and voila: a decadent yet simple dinner that tastes like a cheese plate in mac and cheese form. It also uses only one pot, so dishes are at a minimum. All this grown-up pasta needs is a fresh green salad, and you’ve got dinner ready to go.

Credit: Christopher Broe

Walnut Mac and Roquefort Cheese and Sage

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 8 minutes to 10 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 pound

    dry short pasta, such as macaroni or cavatappi

  • 2 cups

    California walnuts (8 ounces), plus more for serving

  • 3 ounces

    Roquefort or other blue cheese, plus more for serving

  • 5

    fresh sage leaves, plus more for serving

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more for the pasta

  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Bring about 4 quarts of salted water to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add 1 pound dry short pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente, about 8 minutes. Reserve 3 cups pasta water. Drain the pasta, then return to the pot.

  2. Place 2 cups California walnuts, 3 ounces Roquefort cheese, 5 fresh sage leaves, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1 3/4 cups of the reserved hot pasta water in a blender or a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and process until smooth and creamy.

  3. Pour the walnut cream sauce over the cooked pasta and toss to coat over low heat, adding more pasta water to thin out the sauce as needed. Serve warm topped with more crushed walnuts, blue cheese, coarsely chopped sage leaves, and freshly ground black pepper.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Thin the sauce to desired consistency with water when reheating.

California walnuts are a simple and delicious way to add flavor, texture, and nutrition to all your favorite meals and snacks. Discover hundreds of recipes at walnuts.org.