Saturday, May 19, 2012

Creamy Mac' and Cheese

Mmm, look at that cheesy-delicious-goodness! Does it not look fantastic? Well to me it does, maybe because I've eaten it and it is sooo yummy. With the corn on the cob, it just looks like a fantastic way to start into summer. This really is a great mac' and cheese dish; it's very simple to make and takes probably 45 minutes max- and that's with 25 minutes of baking time; it's got a nice tang and great flavour from the old cheddar cheese; and the crisp panko crumbs on top is the perfect crumb to give it a bit of crunch, so you can get a balance of soft and gooey to crunchy. AND it's out of my favourite cookbook: The Vegetarian Collection by Canadian Living. I've tried many many recipes out of that book and they're almost always a hit.

With this recipe I added in some roasted red pepper, because I think it gives it that extra kick. I can't say the idea was mine- I used to work at the Hard Rock Cafe as a server and my favourite dish there was the Twisted Mac and Cheese (also why I choose to use cavatappi noodles), and they used roasted red pepper as well. Not that I'm a strong endorser of eating out, but if you do have a Hard Rock Cafe in your area, I strongly recommend trying the Twisted Mac and Cheese. Oh, and get cheese added to your garlic bread that comes with it... to die for.
1 tablespoon butter
1 small onion, diced
pinch of cayenne
dash of pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for pasta water
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, whole grain is fine if you don't have regular
2 cups old cheddar cheese, grated, plus more for top
1 roasted red pepper, diced
panko bread crumbs
2 1/2 cups dry pasta of your choice, I prefer cavatappi for this dish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray or grease the insides of a 9x9 square dish.

Everything tossed together before being sent to
the oven to bake!
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, cayenne, salt and pepper, and cook until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes.

Add in the flour, and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the milk and mustard, and whisk until bubbling and thickened. Once the mixture is thick, remove from heat and add in half of the cheese. Stir until all the cheese is melted, then add the second half. Mix in the diced red pepper.

In the meantime, cook the pasta you've chosen to use in a salted pot of boiling water. Cook until the pasta is al dente, about 8 minutes. Strain and set aside until the cheese sauce is all done; then coat the pasta thoroughly with the cheese sauce. Spoon the pasta mixture into the baking dish and flatten out on top. Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese and then sprinkle enough panko crumbs on top to create a good crust.

Bake in the oven until the cheese is bubbling and the panko crumbs are browned, about 25 minutes.

Source: slightly adapted from Canadian Living: The Vegetarian Collection

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