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It amazes me that I’ve gone one whole year posting on this blog and still have yet to post a mac and cheese recipe! Well you’re gunna have to wait a little longer because this is also not a mac and cheese recipe.
When I think of mac and cheese, I think of the oozing, gooey, cheesy pasta bake that we all know and love, especially around the holidays when we simultaneously lack self control. The dish that never allows for leftovers but the next day you end up feeling like your insides are being attacked. No, this is not that mac and cheese. This is its not-so-distant, but skinnier cousin!
The recipe is rooted in a good mac and cheese base: starting with a roux, whisking in milk and cheese. The major difference, and no it’s not some mind-blowing secret, is there is significantly less cheese (also butter, flour and milk), but that’s literally it! In all my years eating mac and cheese, watching it being cooked, and cooking it myself, I never stopped to say to myself, “Holy shit, that is A LOT of cheese”, but in reality, it really is! And let’s face it, we never eat mac and cheese alone as a meal, it serves as just a side dish to the main course! Now, I won’t go and start a political discussion about the effects of cheese on the body today, but more and more I’m starting to value the word Moderation and apply it to my daily habits, especially with food!
My purpose for this recipe was to be able to enjoy all the things I love most about a good mac and cheese but without all the heavy cream and excess amounts of cheese. The mushrooms add their own unique flavor and pair so well with gruyere - one of my favorite cheese ever! Seasoning that roux with garlic, ground mustard and paprika is a MUST and just adds another depth of flavor. You can even choose to forgo the extra cheese “crust” by skipping the oven and serving it right off of the stovetop. Just cook the pasta in the cheese sauce for an additional 4-5 minute to allow the pasta to cook through. This will also cut down your cooking time by 10 minutes!
So there you have it, a guilt-reduced pasta bake that tastes just as good as mac and cheese without all the extra calories! Hope you enjoy!
- 1 lb your favorite pasta, I used cavatappi
- 8 oz baby bella mushrooms
- 4 oz mascarpone
- 1 1/2 cup grated gruyere cheese
- 1 cup cold milk
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp ground mustard
- 1/2 tsp cayanne pepper (optional)
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp cracked pepperInstructions
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cook pasta for half the time indicated on box directions. Drain and set aside.
- In a large pot, melt 1 tablespoon of butter then saute mushrooms for 4 minutes, seasoning with a pinch of salt and pepper. Drain and set aside.
- Using the same pot, melt remaining butter then whisk in flour, garlic powder, ground mustard, paprika and cayenne for about 1 minute. Whisk in cold milk and continue to whisk until milk thickens. Add in mascarpone then 1 cup of gruyere cheese and salt and pepper. Stir frequently until all cheese has melted, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add semi-cooked pasta to cheese sauce and stir together, thoroughly coating pasta. Cook for 2 minutes.
- Transfer pasta mixture into a large, greased 9x13 casserole dish. Make sure pasta is in an even layer. Sprinkle layer of remaining gruyere cheese on top. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until cheese has melted and has slightly browned.
- Remove pasta from oven and let cool for 5 mintues before serving.DetailsPrep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 8 servings
Skill Level: Easy
- 8 oz baby bella mushrooms