Pesto Mac and Cheese

Ingredients:Pesto Mac and Cheese
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for baking dish
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 2 tablespoons finely chopped basil leaves
• 1 3/4 cups Parmesan cheese
1 lb mini pasta shells
• 2 cups half-and-half
16 ounces goat cheese
• 1/2 cup pesto sauce, store-bought or home-made
• 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
• Butter a 2 quart baking dish. Preheat the broiler and arrange a rack on top.
• Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a small pan over low heat.
• In a large bowl add the garlic, basil, and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan.
• Add the melted butter and toss to combine.
• Reserve.
• Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat.
• Add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions.
• Meanwhile, put the half-and-half in a small pot and bring to a simmer over low heat.
• Simmer until reduced and slightly thickened, about 5 to 7 minutes.
• Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water and drain the pasta.
• Put the pot over low heat and add the half-and-half mixture.
• When it simmers, add the goat cheese and whisk until smooth.
• Add in the remaining Parmesan and whisk until melted.
• Add the pasta and stir to coat.
• Stir in the pesto, reserved cooking water, salt, and pepper.
• Season with additional salt and freshly ground black pepper, if needed.
• Pour the pasta mixture into the buttered baking dish and top with the basil mixture.
• Put under the broiler until the mixture bubbles and the top is browned, about 1 to 2 minutes.
• Remove from the broiler and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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