Originally published December 27, 2011 at 3:02 PM | Page modified December 28, 2011 at 6:06 AM

Recipe: The Beachcomber's Spinach Truffle Mac

This is a fancy mac and cheese that is served at The Beachcomber at Crystal Cove in Newport Coast, Ca.

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Makes 4 to 8 servings

1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons butter, divided

8 ounces sliced white button mushrooms, about 4 cups

4 ounces baby spinach, about 4 cups

2 cups heavy cream

12 ounces shredded smoked Gouda, about 3 cups

8 ounces grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese, a generous 2 cups, plus 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano, divided

1/4 cup white truffle oil

1 (1-pound box) cavatappi or macaroni pasta, cooked and drained

Salt and white pepper

4 ounces (2 cups) mixed mushrooms, such as chanterelle, enoki or oyster

1/2 cup panko (Japanese-style) breadcrumbs

Parsley sprigs, for garnish

1. Heat a medium, heavy-bottom pot over medium-high heat until hot. Add 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter, swirling to melt.

2. Add the button mushrooms and sauté until lightly colored, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the spinach and continue to sauté for a minute to wilt.

3. Stir in the heavy cream, smoked Gouda, 8 ounces pecorino or Parmesan cheese and truffle oil, and reduce the heat slightly. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce starts to thicken, about 5 minutes.

4. Toss in the cooked pasta and heat through, stirring until the sauce is thickened and creamy. Taste and season if desired. Remove from heat and set aside in a warm place.

5. Heat a saute pan over medium-high heat until hot. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and sauté the mixed mushrooms until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

6. In a small bowl, toss together the panko crumbs with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

7. To plate, divide the pasta among 4 to 8 ovenproof bowls. Top the pasta with the bread crumb mixture and place the bowls under the broiler. Broil the pasta just until the topping starts to brown, about a minute, depending on the distance of the broiler.

8. Remove the bowls from the broiler and top each serving with the sauteed mixed mushrooms and a sprig of parsley. Serve immediately.

Note: Cavatappi pasta is a type of tube pasta, similar to macaroni; it is available some grocery stores.

From Noelle Carter, the Los Angeles Times, adapted from the Beachcomber at Crystal Cove in Newport Coast, Calif.

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