It’s the tarragon in this recipe that transforms it from an ordinary mushroom and cheese dish into something truly sublime.

INGREDIENTS:

Handful coarse sea salt, to taste

1 pound macaroni

10 ounces portobello mushrooms, stems trimmed level with cap, gills removed

2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Leaves from a few sprigs fresh parsley, finely chopped

Leaves from a few sprigs fresh tarragon, finely chopped

1/2 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup tightly packed grated white Cheddar, plus more to taste

2/3 cup tightly packed grated Parmesan, plus more to taste

8 ounces Taleggio, rind removed, diced or sliced

Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the macaroni according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 400˚F (200˚C).

3. Arrange the mushrooms in a single layer on a baking sheet, stem-side up, and brush with oil. Season lightly with salt, sprinkle with the herbs, and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender. Remove and let cool slightly. Dice the mushrooms and set aside.

4. Preheat the broiler to medium.

5. Put the cream in a large saucepan and bring just to a boil, stirring occasionally, then reduce the heat. Add the Cheddar and Parmesan and half the Taleggio, and stir well to melt. Taste and adjust the seasoning. (If a thicker sauce is desired, add more cheese to taste.)

6. Dump the drained macaroni into a large bowl. Stir in half the mushrooms and the hot cream sauce and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Transfer the macaroni mixture to a 2-quart casserole or a 9-by-13-inch baking dish (be sure your baking dish is broilerproof; do not use a glass or ceramic dish). Top with the remaining mushrooms and Taleggio and a good grinding of black pepper. Broil for 5 to 10 minutes, until the top is golden. Serve immediately.

Full Recipe: Leites Culinaria.

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