I love healthy food, but some days a dinner made of vegetables and quinoa just won’t cut it. On those days, I can look through my recipe collection, and even my favorite recipes just don’t sound good.
I have those days every now and then, and no matter how much I love a good vegetable stew, or something with spinach, I need something cheesy, crispy, and comforting. Usually on those days, it’s pizza because I don’t have to cook it, but if I feel like cooking on those days, I’ll go for baked mac and cheese.
I love mac and cheese, but not just any mac and cheese.
It has to have good cheese (no Velveeta for me, thanks!)
It has to have a browned and crunchy top, usually with breadcrumbs.
It has to have LOTS of fresh ground black pepper.
My ideal mac and cheese recipe doesn’t have the following: Pureed veggies (because I eat plenty of vegetables without having to hide them), whole wheat pasta (it’s mac and cheese; it’s not supposed to be healthy), and low fat cheese (because just why?)
If it weren’t for cheese, I could seriously be a vegan. Yes, I can live without it, but I’m not sure why I want to because then I couldn’t have dishes like this.
This version uses a combination of 3 cheeses, and is topped with a crunchy sourdough bread crumb topping (is there another way to eat mac and cheese?)
While you may think you can’t get enough cheese, you definitely don’t want to over do it on the blue here or it may be overwhelming. Just a hint of blue cheese flavor is enough to compliment the other cheeses.
This is the kind of dish that will wake you up at 3am with heartburn, but you’ll forget about it the next day when you eat a big bowl again for lunch (with more fresh ground pepper, of course.)
- ½ pound penne or macaroni, cooked until slightly underdone
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 cup grated Swiss
- ½ cup crumbled blue cheese
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 2-3 slices sourdough bread, processed in a food processor to make course breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- ½ teaspoon thyme leaves
- ½ cup grated cheddar and/or Swiss
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When it’s melted, stir in the flour.
- Cook for a couple minutes until lightly browned and whisk in the milk. Stir until it starts to bubble and is thickened and add the thyme, mustard powder, a pinch of salt and fresh ground black pepper.
- Turn off the heat and add the cheese a little at a time until the sauce is smooth and creamy. Season to taste (might I suggest adding some fresh ground pepper?)
- Combine the cooked pasta with the sauce and put in an ovenproof skillet or square casserole dish.
- Make the topping by combining the breadcrumbs with the butter and thyme. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and remaining cheese over the casserole and bake until browned and crispy, 20-25 minutes.