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Mac and cheese with picada sauce

Recipe by:Chef de Cuisine Ryan Kacenjar
F3 Restaurant, Sausalito


  • Picada sauce
    1/2 bunch thyme
    1/4 cup breadcrumbs
    1/4 cup almonds
    1 clove garlic, smashed
    1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
    1/4 tsp. smashed lemon zest
    Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Pasta
    2 cups dry orecchiette pasta
    1 tbsp. butter
    1 tbsp. diced sweet onion
    1 tsp. minced garlic
    1 cup heavy cream
    1/2 cup Comté cheese (can substitute with Gruyère or fontina)
    Salt and pepper, to taste


For picada: Combine thyme and breadcrumbs and bake in a 350-degree oven until crumbs are golden brown. Remove the branches of thyme from the crumbs. Meanwhile, toast almonds in the oven until they are a very light color of mocha. Chop to roughly the size of the breadcrumbs. Combine breadcrumbs and almonds with remaining ingredients. Set aside. (Picada is a sauce traditionally used in Catalan and Valencian cuisine.)

To serve: Cook pasta to al dente in a large pot of boiling, salted water. Drain, but don't rinse. Warm a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add butter, onion and garlic. Swirl in the fat until the aroma loses its harshness. Add cream and pasta. Reduce liquid until it just coats the pasta. Add cheese and season with salt and pepper. Top with picada and serve hot.

Califonia Bountiful