Mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort meal for Mandi and me. We make it when it has been a rough day, or on a Sunday night to relax. It is very easy to make, super addicting when you eat it, and the best thing is there are always leftovers to bring in to work for lunch. We wanted to make some a few days ago so I looked at the site to see what Mac and cheeses I have done on here to make sure we made something different I would be able to post. I was surprised to find only 2 (full) mac and cheese recipes! We brainstormed this one over email in the afternoon and feasted on its amazingness that night.
Pretty basil flower.
We are using the tops of broccoli in this meal, but don't toss out that beautiful stalk! Dice it up and put it in with the onions.
This is some sausage I had in the freezer. This dish doesn't need sausage, I just had it and decided to throw it in. I browned it up before mixing it into the casserole.
A food processor would be better, but I was able to blend this up well after a few times of shutting it off and pressing everything down. There was a good quarter cup of olive oil in here to help everything blend.
Everything ready to go.
Recently I had truffle mac and cheese as an appetizer at a restaurant and it was really tasty. The truffle flavor was a bit overpowering in that dish because it was a small portion, but it made me realize that a hint of truffle flavor pairs really well with macaroni and cheese! This is optional, but we had some truffle oil we barely use that we put a few tablespoons of into the cheese sauce. Some went in at the beginning with the veggies to get the essence throughout the whole dish, and some went in at the end to boost the flavor.
Onions, Broc-stalk, salt, pepper, cayenne.
After 10 minutes when the onions have sweated down, look to the bottom of the pan to see if there is any oil left that has not absorbed into the veggies. If not, add a nice splash. Next add garlic, followed 1 minute later by 2 or 3 tablespoons of flour. Be sure to mix the flour into the oil and veggies well and give it at least 3 minutes of cooking time. This picture is after the flour.
Meanwhile, Mandi made some breadcrumbs.
We like to try different pastas when making mac and cheese. Whatever looks small and fun at the store that day.
After the flour, whisk in milk and keep whisking until everything is nice and smooth. Put the milk in warm if you can cause it will help get rid of lumps. Whisk and stir constantly until the milk is very hot, then start adding cheese slowly, all while whisking.
The pasta should be boiled in well salted water for 3 minutes less than the normal time. Here we are adding the pasta to the herb puree. What's the story with the metal pan? My casserole pan broke and I am moving soon so I didn't want to get a new one till after the move.
Then the cheese sauce to the pasta.
The broccoli tops and the sausage.
Breadcrumbs and more cheese. Parmesan this time.
After 25 minutes at 350 and a little broil action, it looks like this.
Plenty left for work lunches!
These directions seem long, but it's just cause I was in a descriptive mood today (a change, I know). The recipe is actually quite easy!
3 big handfuls of arugula
3 big handfuls of spinach
10 or so basil leaves
A few sprig/stalks of fresh marjoram
A little more fresh oregano than marjoram
Put in a blender with about a quarter cup of olive oil, and some salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. A food processor would be easier.
¼ cup olive oil in pan
Optional 1 tablespoon truffle oil
1 small onion diced and 1 stalk of broccoli diced into pan with oil salt, pepper and cayenne
Cook 10 minutes
Add 2 cloves garlic diced
Cook 1 minute
Add 2 or 3 tablespoons flour
Mix well and cook 5 minutes until flour is not raw and gains some color but not too brown
Whisk in 4 cups warm milk
Mix well until mixture is smooth and hot
Slowly add in three quarters of your cheese, leaving the rest for the top.
Cheese is equal parts provolone, manchego, cheddar and jack. Total 2 lbs.
Add another optional tablespoon of truffle oil
Taste. If you need more salt, pepper, or truffle, feel free to add. The truffle is to personal preference and I like it subtle but definitely noticeable.
Put your green sauce in the baking dish and add cooked, (undercooked) pasta - 1 pound. Add the cheese sauce to this and mix everything well. Add the broccoli and optional sausage. This doesn't need meat at all, but I am guessing most of my friends will want to add some. I would just like to suggest not using chicken because I think chicken ruins mac and cheese. The chunks tend to dry out in the baking. If you do want to use poultry however, maybe shred up some chicken thighs, or used ground chicken or turkey that you brown in a pan first. Otherwise, ground beef or sausage is nice, but don't overdo it.
Now that it is all mixed, put the rest of the cheese on top, followed by the breadcrumbs and a sprinkle of parmesan. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes followed by a few minutes under a broiler (with close attention so as not to burn it.) Let it sit 7 minutes before serving.