Mac and feta

February 18, 2009

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Serves 6

Select a soft, creamy feta (such as imported French feta) and crumble the cheese; it mixes with the milk and eggs to produce a thick, velvety sauce. Use penne or any tube-shaped pasta; the pieces that poke out of the sauce turn crisp and golden. For bread crumbs, use thick slices of rough-textured sourdough bread, and work them in a food processor. The egg and milk mixture goes into the dish just before it goes into the oven. You can cut this mac neatly into squares.

Butter (for the pan)
1 cup bread crumbs
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 pound penne
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 pound feta, crumbled
6 eggs, well beaten
2 1/2 cups milk (skim or low-fat)
1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle the dish with 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs.

2. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the penne and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes or until the pasta is not quite tender; it will cook more later. Drain the penne and transfer to a large bowl.

3. Add the butter and feta. Transfer the mixture to the baking dish.

4. In the empty pasta bowl, whisk the eggs well. Stir in the milk and plenty of pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the pasta. With the back of a large spoon, gently press the pasta into the mixture; it's OK if a little pasta pokes out. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup bread crumbs.

5. Bake the pasta for 40 to 45 minutes or until the custard sets and the top browns. Cut into squares. Allison Boomer