Macaroni and cheese is a North American signature comfort food. It is loved by most people because of its simplicity and its overwhelming cheesy flavour. On tasting it in Canada, I realized that a steaming hot bowl of pasta and melted cheese can do wonders!
Macaroni and cheese originated in Northern Italy. It has a history that goes back to colonial America when a similar dish was served in Churches that was associated with the upper classes. It is President Thomas Jefferson, who holds the honour of introducing it to Americans. It was served at a state dinner in White house after he enjoyed this dish in Italy and brought back its recipe. Whatever the history is, Mac and cheese is here to stay!
Kraft Foods popularized Macaroni and Cheese and brought it to everybody’s dinner table and called it a nourishing one pot meal. Since that day, it has been a North American staple, with a huge fan following.
Original homemade recipes include pasta, butter or cream, and Parmesan cheese. It is common to find the use of cheddar cheese in this dish. Gourmet versions have a variety of cheeses, including Gruyère, smoked Gouda or goat cheese. Adding other ingredients like bacon, tomatoes and spices like nutmeg and mustard can provide a different taste experience.
My simple homemade recipe has pasta, vegetables, butter, Cheddar and Parmesan cheese. Mac and cheese can be adapted to match your style. I tried adding some vegetables and reducing cheese to make it a healthier alternative.
Normally, Mac and cheese is baked as a casserole dish by layering the cooked macaroni and pouring cheese sauce over each layer. In this, I baked mixing the cheese sauce and macaroni together in an oven proof dish and topping it with more sauce, breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese.
- 1/2 cup elbow macaroni
- 1/4 cauliflower
- 1/2 carrot
- 1/2 a red pepper
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth
- 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese grated
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
- a pinch of nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Cut cauliflower into small florets and chop carrot.
- Lay them on a greased baking tray and bake for 20 minutes adding salt and pepper.
- Bake until the vegetables are cooked but crunchy.
- Boil water in a large sauce pan and when it boil add macaroni and cook al-dente.
- Add 1 tbsp butter to a pan and fry garlic.
- Sprinkle all purpose flour and stir until well mixed.
- Add milk and blend well without any lumps.
- Stir in vegetable broth and bring to a boil.
- Cook until this white sauce thickens.
- Add cheese and stir until it melts and combines with the sauce.
- Sprinkle chilli flakes, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
- Drain macaroni using a colander and rinse under cold water to stop its cooking.
- Transfer this to an oven proof container and pour sauce over it and mix well.
- Top with more sauce, Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs and dot with butter on it.
- Bake for 20 -25 minutes until top browns.
- Remove casserole from oven and cool for 5 minutes and serve.
There are packaged mixes of Mac and cheese that can be easily cooked on stove top but nothing can match the one made from scratch. Make your own Macaroni and cheese and enjoy this simple pleasure of life.