I LOVE mac & cheese and I’m not talking about kraft dinner or other impostors. I love legitimate mac & cheese. Emphasis on the cheese! There is nothing worse than skimping on cheese.
I’ve been on a mac & cheese kick lately and have ordered it twice at restaurants recently and I have been pleasantly surprised…
…but of course, I think mine is just slightly better. I think I have finally perfected mac & cheese and want to share my recipe so that you can also enjoy the wondrous delights of mac & cheese done right! I guess this technically isn’t mac & cheese done “right” because I used fusilli instead of macaroni pasta, but you can always use macaroni instead. I personally went with the Catelli Bistro tri-colour vegetable pasta because it tastes delicious and offers the goodness of vegetables in every serving. I find that it tastes a whole lot better than whole wheat pasta and is a healthier alternative to regular pasta. It is a good source of fiber, iron, vitamin A, potassium and is low in sodium + fat and is cholesterol free. I also like that it is colourful and looks pretty. I wish they made vegetable macaroni.
Anyway, I assure you that this mac & cheese recipe is super ooey and gooey and overflowing with delicious cheesiness.
If you are crazy you can always use less cheese, but in regards to cheese I believe that more is always better!
What you need:
- 2 cups of Catelli Bistro Tri-Colour Vegetable Fusilli Pasta
-you can use any macaroni or pasta for this, but I love and recommend the tri-colour vegetable pasta
- 1 cup of asparagus
– I’ve also made this with broccoli and mushrooms and it was delicious, so feel free to use whatever vegetable(s) you like
- 1 1/4 cup of 35% whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon of minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon of Robin Hood Easy Blend Flour
- 1 cup of grated old cheddar cheese
- 1 cup of grated mozzarella cheese
- 4-6 slices of havarti cheese
- approx. 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese
- approx. 1 cup of Panko Bread crumbs
- pinch of salt
How to prepare:
To begin, I gather all of my ingredients, boil a medium to large size pot of water, grate the cheese, and chop up the asparagus. While waiting for the water to boil, I make my cream sauce.
To make the sauce, first place a heaping teaspoon of garlic into a medium size pot. Place the pot on a burner and let the garlic cook for a minute or two to let out the flavour.
Add 1 1/4 cups of 35% whipping cream to the pot and stir. Keep the cream on low heat and stir often. The sauce shouldn’t be boiling or bubbling. I like to multi-task, so once I get my cream sauce started I move onto cooking the pasta and check back in on the cream sauce often. After about 5 minutes add 1 teaspoon of Robin Hood Easy Blend Flour (this is optional) and stir to thicken the sauce. Add a few sprinkles of parmesan cheese and remember to keep stirring. I would say that I usually have my sauce cooking for about 10 minutes, so enough time for me to cook and drain my pasta.
For the pasta and asparagus: when the pot with water starts boiling add a pinch of salt. Keep this pot over medium to high heat while cooking. I’m not quite sure why I felt the need to take a picture of this step, but there you have my picture of boiling water! Ooh! Aah! I know this is super exciting!
For some reason, my picture of chopped up asparagus went missing/ was deleted, so you will have to imagine it. Sorry for the asparagus fail, but all I did was wash my asparagus, chop off the ends and discard them. I cut the remaining asparagus into about 1 inch size pieces. If you are cooking for children (or even adults…I don’t judge) that don’t like vegetables, this is the perfect way to sneak some in. The asparagus pieces look like the green pieces of pasta and blend in perfectly! Mwahahaha.
Add 2 cups of Catelli Bistro Tri-Colour Vegetable Fusilli Pasta and 1 cup of chopped up asparagus to the boiling water. Cook for about 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Random side note: the pasta sank and the asparagus floated.
Cook your pasta until it is al dente, about 7-8 minutes.
Wikipedia describes al dente as: “Pasta that has been cooked so as to be firm but not hard. Keeping the pasta firm is especially important in baked pasta dishes, where the pasta is cooked twice.”
Drain the boiling water and place the pasta and asparagus combo back into the pot and put back on the burner, making sure you adjust the temperature to low.
Pour the lovely garlic & cream sauce over the pasta and asparagus and stir. Now you are going to add handfuls of cheese (alternating between cheddar and mozzarella) to the pasta. Stir in between each handful to ensure that the cheese melts and does not get clumpy.
Once all of the cheese is added, give the pasta a final good stir and make sure that everything is nicely combined. Pour half of the pasta into a shallow baking dish and spread it out so it makes a thin even layer.
Place slices of havarti cheese over the layer of pasta, making sure you cover all of the pasta. You do not want any of the pasta to miss out on the awesome cheesiness, so you may need to rip the cheese slices into smaller pieces to fit into all the nooks and crannies. Once you have your pasta covered with the cheese slices, pour the remaining half of the pasta on top of the cheese.
Next, I sprinkled parmesan cheese over top followed by sprinkling a thin layer of panko bread crumbs, ensuring all the pasta is covered. Looking back, I probably could have added another layer of the havarti slices before adding the panko. I might try this out next time: I don’t know how I missed this excellent opportunity to bump up the amount of cheese in this. Now you are ready to bake your mac & cheese! Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes. The panko bread crumbs will be a slight golden colour and you will see some cheese oozing out when it is ready.
After assembling, I covered my mac & cheese up with aluminum foil and actually brought it over to my boyfriend’s house and baked it there. So, the pictures of the mac & cheese after baking are in a different kitchen, just in case you wonder why the kitchen looks different.
This mac & cheese was very easy to make and was extremely delicious. I would say that this recipe makes enough to feed 6 hungry people. If you are eating the macaroni as a side dish with something else, you will get a lot more servings. Seriously, writing this post and looking at the pictures is making me really hungry. I made this mac & cheese last week, and I may need to make it again this week!
I think that I could have improved on my presentation of the dish, but I was hungry and just wanted to eat it. Who needs fancy schmancy presentation with something that tastes this good anyway?
I hope that you try out this recipe, because it is yummy beyond words.
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Also, if you decide to try out this recipe leave a comment below and let me know how it turned out!
Have a wonderful day!