I’ve been making the same mac & cheese recipe for about seven years now. I originally found it in an issue of Everyday Food magazine, but over the years I’ve tweaked it just a bit to stretch it further and make it just a tad healthier (though admittedly, not much). My seven-year old had four helpings of this the other night. Four. My four-year-old had to be coerced even though it contains everything he likes: pasta, cream cheese, and cheddar. For this recipe I prefer to use small shells instead of elbow macaroni. I like the way the sauce gets into the opening of the shell pasta.
Gather your ingredients:
1 Tbsp. melted butter
1/4 C. breadcrumbs
1 1/4 C. low-fat milk (I use 1%; I have not tested this with skim)
8 oz. (one package) neufchâtel cheese
2 cups grated white cheddar
8 oz. uncooked shell pasta (about half a box)
1/4 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. pepper
Preheat oven to 400. Butter a 13 x 9 dish. In a small bowl, toss the melted butter with breadcrumbs. Set aside. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package directions; drain.
In a large non-stick stock pot, bring milk to a boil over medium heat. (Keep your eye on it, or it will bubble over and make a big mess; trust me.) Reduce heat to med-low; add neufchatel cheese, cut into cubes. Stir until melted. Gradually add cheddar and stir slowly until it has melted
Add cooked pasta to the melted cheese.
Add salt and pepper and stir it all together. The mac & cheese is delicious like this if you prefer it extra-creamy, but if you want to bake it, pour it into a greased 13 x 9 baking dish. Because of my schedule during the day, I’ll often make it up to this point in the morning, put it in the fridge, then finish it in the oven later (just let it come to room temperature first).
When you’re ready, bake the mac & cheese in a 450 degree oven until it starts to bubble (about 10 minutes). Take it out of the oven and sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the top, then bake it for an additional 10 minutes.
Typically I serve this as a main dish along with a salad that has been dressed with a vinaigrette, but naturally it makes a great side dish, too.
• 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained or 2 cups cooked black beans (tender)
• 1/4 cup ripe olives, sliced, drained
• 1 medium tomatoes, seeded & chopped
• 1/2 red pepper, chopped
• 1 cup canned or frozen corn
• 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
• 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
• 2 tablespoons olive oil, or vegetable oil
• 2 tablespoons lime juice
• 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
• 1-2 cloves minced garlic
• 1 teaspoon cumin, ground
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 1cup cooked orzo
• Optional: avacado, shredded cheddar cheese
Mix beans, olives, tomatoes, onions, corn, peppers and cilantro in large bowl. Mix oil, lime juice, vinegar, cumin, garlic, pepper and salt; toss with bean mixture. Stir in pasta. Let stand for 1 hour to blend flavors. If desired, top with shredded cheese and cubed avacado before serving
* Equal parts of white vinegar and water, bring to a boil.
* Drop asparagus in boiling vinegar/water for about 3-4 minutes.
* Remove asaparagus and drain well. (Dry on towel).
* Add olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and a little crushed red pepper.
This dish tastes better if you refrigerate it to let the flavors blend, and then let it warm to room temperature.
1/2 recipe Basic Pie Pastry Dough
3 large tomatoes, about 1 1/2 pounds, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
Kosher salt for sprinkling
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 cup coarsely grated Gruyere cheese
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Additional kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Roll the dough into an 1/8-inch thick round on a lightly floured work surface. Transfer to a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, cut off any excess dough from the edges, and prick the bottom lightly with a fork. Chill
for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line the shell with foil and fill with pie weights, dried beans, or rice. Bake in the lower third of the oven for 20 minutes. Carefully remove the weights and foil. Return to the oven and
bake for 10 minutes more or until light golden. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.
Turn up the oven to 400 degrees F. Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt and drain in a colander for 10 to 15 minutes. Spread the mustard over the bottom of the shell and sprinkle the cheese over it. Arrange the tomatoes over the cheese in one overlapping layer. Bake until the pastry is golden brown and the tomatoes are very soft, 35 to 40 minutes.
In a small bowl, stir together the parsley, thyme, garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste to blend. Sprinkle the pie with this mixture while hot and spread out gently with the back of a spoon. Serve the pie hot or at room temperature. Serves 6 to 8.
This is Sara Moulton’s original recipe. However, I didn’t make my own pie dough – I just used the pre-made pie crusts you buy in the freezer section. Also, I cut way down on the mustard; I think I used a couple Tbsp., just enough to coat the bottom. Also, I used provolone and mozzarella slices instead of the Gruyere, and whatever herbs I had on hand. Also, I think the recipe tastes much better at room temperature, rather than hot.