I realize there’s been a bit of a hiatus since I’ve posted a recipe. My life has been taken over by more academic pursuits the last few weeks and, while I’ve managed to carve out a bit of time for cooking, I can’t say the same for recipe recording. But I’m back with a super easy mid-week recipe for stove top mac and cheese. Impress your friends and family (or just yourself) with the ultimate in comfort food (with a garlicky twist, because I think most dishes benefit from a garlicky twist) that takes only 20 minutes of your time!
1 package penne or elbow pasta
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp. dried italian seasoning
extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbs. butter
3 Tbs. flour
salt and pepper
3 cups milk (You can use whatever you want as long as it’s not skim milk–you can use 1%, 2%, whole milk, a combination of those or even soymilk or half soymilk and half regular. This way you can use up whatever you have in the fridge!)
3 cups shredded cheese of your choice (I like the cheddar-gruyère blend from trader joe’s or the raw milk cheddar from trader joe’s. Use whatever strikes your fancy)
Extra cheese for topping
Bring a large pot of water to a boil with a few pinches of sea salt and a good drizzle of olive oil. Cook pasta until just al dente (you want it a tiny bit undercooked because it’s going to go in the oven), drain and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350. In a small frying pan, heat 2 Tbs. olive oil over medium high heat. Add chopped garlic and cooking, stirring often, until garlic starts to brown. Turn off heat and stir in italian seasoning. Pour into a small bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan over medium high heat, melt the butter and stir in the flour. Stir constantly with a whisk to create a paste. Cook until the paste turns golden brown (about 3 minutes). Add in the milk of your choice and still well. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk, for 4 minutes, or until milk is heated. Turn off heat and stir in shredded cheese. Stir with a wooden spoon to melt. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour garlic oil into cheese mixture and stir well. Pour garlicky cheese over pasta and stir well to coat pasta with cheesy goodness. Spray a 8 x 8 inch square baking dish with olive oil spray and pour cheesy pasta into dish. Sprinkle the top of the pasta with extra shredded cheese. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes until cheese on top is well melted.
Variation ideas: Add roast chicken and sundried tomatoes to the mixture before baking for a more well-rounded dish. Or, try an elevated tuna-noodle casserole: add sautéed onions and celery along with peas and oil-packed, high-quality tuna to the pasta before baking. I promise it’s yummy.