Let autumn inspire seasonal twists on classic macaroni & cheese


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Photo by Julia Terranova |

One of the best parts of autumn is the food. After a hot summer spent eating ice cream and more ice cream, we can finally settle back into warm, comforting dishes. The weather has been unseasonably hot this October, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start embracing your favorite autumn dishes.

With the plethora of fresh vegetables available in the fall, it is the perfect time of year to put a seasonal twist on the recipe of a perennial favorite: macaroni and cheese. This macaroni and cheese is a little more work than your typical microwave mac, but the results are worth it. To make it a little more fall appropriate, we’ve added mushrooms, which makes it even more delicious.

Invite some friends over, snuggle up on the couch and watch your favorite Halloween movie. A bottle of wine never hurts.

Serves 4-6 as a main dish

Photo: Julia Terranova

Ingredients:

Topping:

1/2 c bread crumbs

1/3 c grated pecorino or parmesan

4 tbs (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Black pepper

~3 c mushrooms, sliced or diced into small pieces

2 tbs olive oil

Salt

Cheese sauce:

4 tbs (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

4 tbs flour

2 cups whole milk, warm

2 cups shredded/grated cheese (we used mozzarella and pecorino, but you can use any meltable cheese)

1 lb short pasta, like shells or fusilli

Directions:

For the topping: Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl, set aside.

For the mushrooms: Heat olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and stir occasionally until slightly soft and caramelized. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

For the pasta: Bring water to a boil in a large pot, add salt, then cook pasta for about 10 minutes or until cooked all the way through but still firm (it will soften more later). Reserve about a cup of the pasta water, then drain.

For the cheese sauce: Warm the milk in the microwave or on the stove. Melt the butter over medium heat. Slowly whisk or stir in the flour until it forms a paste. Continue to stir and cook for three minutes until it turns a light brown. Very slowly, whisk or stir in the milk. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, for about five minutes. Stir in cheese and mix until smooth and incorporated.

Preheat broiler to high.

Add the cooked pasta and mushrooms to the cheese sauce along with a pinch of salt and black pepper, stir well. If it seems dry, add some reserved pasta water. Spread mixture into a baking dish and top with the breadcrumb mixture and a drizzle of olive oil.

Put mac and cheese under broiler for around eight minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and the topping is crispy and brown. Let sit for about 10 minutes, then dig in.


Julia Terranova

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