Macaroni & Cheese is a old time favourite that so many of us grew up with. In our house it was a staple and I remember it being one of the dishes I looked forward to the most. There was nothing better on a cold winters day, than Macaroni & Cheese. The recipe I remember, used layers of short cut macaroni with cheddar cheese. Then topped with extra cheese and bread crumbs. Milk was directly poured into the baking dish and then it was baked. No sauce was made and no herbs of any kind were used. But boy oh boy was it delicious! My mom made it the best and I can still taste it.
Since growing up and moving on in life I haven't given this dish much thought and hardly ever made it for my own kids until recent years. I have made my childhood version for them and, very disappointedly, they didn't like it! I was in dismay and shock. How could they not love it as I did all those years ago?
So, I came up with a "new" version to try and tickle their taste buds. This version is made with bechamal, a few herbs, some leeks and a bit of garlic. The result is that they always look forward to it and gobble up two plates full. I am on the fence if I prefer my childhood dish or this new age one. Either way, you just can't go wrong with super creamy, delicious to dive into Macaroni & Cheese. Even if it is still August and a zillion degrees.
Macaroni and Cheese doesn't need any starters or side dishes because it is a star all on it's own. This dish is great for feeding a crowd as all ingredients can easily be doubled. Just put it in a bigger baking dish and you are all set for easy family or friends entertaining.
Back home, Macaroni & Cheese quite often features at pot lucks and it is always finished off. Always! Sometimes great food doesn't have to come with a fancy name, hard to pronounce ingredients or a food group all if it's own. Sometimes good food is just good food. Plain and simple.
If you read in the ingredient list below, you will notice I say to finely chop the leeks. This is because the flavour of leeks is quite nice, but I didn't what huge pieces to make them obvious. So, I chopped them, chopped them again and then continued chopping them until they were super tiny and almost minced. The result is that the flavour comes through in a big way but not the obvious part where there are leeks in the dish. You could always chop them bigger if you prefer them that way. For my one picky child, doing it this way means she doesn't pick them all out.
Macaroni & Cheese
Serves 6-8 / Prep time: 10 minutes / Cook time: 45 minutes
1/2 lb/250 grams shell pasta (or macaroni or whatever short cut pasta you have)
2 Cups/480 ml milk
2 Tablespoons flour
3 Tablespoons butter
1 Leek, trimmed and finely chopped
1 1/2 Cups/175 grams Cheddar cheese, grated
1 Cup/90 grams bread crumbs
1 Teaspoon oregano
Small bunch of fresh chopped parsley
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Teaspoon sea salt
1/2 Teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
4 Garlic cloves, crushed
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and have ready a 8 inch round deep sided baking dish. An equivalent size will do.
In a large saucepan set over medium heat the olive oil and about half of the garlic. Stir for a minute and add the leeks. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 5-8 minutes. Remove leeks from pan and reserve pan.
Cook pasta according to package, drain and set aside.
In the reserved saucepan set over medium to high heat, melt butter with remaining garlic until sizzling. Whisk in flour until you have a paste. Gradually start whisking in your milk. Continue doing this until you have added all the milk and you have a slightly thickened sauce. Reduce heat to medium low and add most of the cheese, reserving a little for the top. Stir really well until all the cheese has melted into the sauce. Season with a little bit of salt and pepper and add the oregano. Stir and remove from heat.
In a bowl combine the bread crumbs, remaining cheese and fresh parsley. Stir to combine.
Pour the pasta, leeks and sauce into your prepared dish. Stir and cover with the bread crumb topping. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and leave few minutes before serving.
Click the downloadable link below to print recipe!
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Hello and thanks for stopping by. I'm Julia and I have a passion for wholesome fresh food. Here you can find what's cooking in my Spanish kitchen, with inspiration from my Newfoundland roots!
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