As much as I love it, I am always a bit weary of Mac and Cheese recipes. It seems any time I've tried to make it in the past, it has come out quite bland... I'm not a fan of bland food! I just found this one so I decided to try it - wow! It has totally changed my mind about making mac and cheese! Not bland at all - it actually has quite a nice kick to it. Definitely one to make again in the future.
This recipe uses soy milk. However, if you have a soy allergy, you can sub regular milk (use the same amounts). I was a bit curious to see if hubby would notice it wasn't made with "real" milk, but you can't tell! He actually went back for seconds - a HUGE second helping so that's a good sign!
One of the great things about this recipe is that it can be made ahead - you can make the casserole without cooking it and keep it in the fridge for up to 2 days. So, you could make it on Sunday then come home from work on Monday and all you have to do is throw it in the oven! Gotta love recipes like that!
This will serve 6 (I made the whole thing even though it's just the two of us - we can finish it off for lunch today. Hubby is a big guy - he'll eat it all!)
8 oz. elbow macaroni or cavatappi pasta
2 cups plain soy milk
1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese - I used 1 cup of sharp cheddar and 1 cup of this pre-shredded Mexican cheese mix (cheddar, queso quesadilla, Monterey jack, and asadero)
1 4-oz can of chopped green chiles
1/2 cup chopped onions (you can use green, white, or red onions or a combo - I used mostly red with some white onion)
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
Crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs (I used panko)
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. olive oil
1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water (lightly salted) for 4-5 minutes or until it is barely tender. Drain and rinse with cold water to cool slightly. Place the pasta in a large bowl.
2. If you are not making this ahead, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray an 8-inch square glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup of the soymilk and the flour until smooth.
3. Heat the remaining 1 3/4 cups of soymilk in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until small bubbles form around the outside edge. Add the flour mixture and cook 2-3 minutes or until the sauce bubbles and thickens, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat.
4. Add the cheese to the milk mixture and stir until melted. Stir in the chiles, onions, cilantro, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and a couple shakes of red pepper flakes. Pour this mixture over the pasta and stir well to mix. Place the pasta mixture in the prepared baking dish.
5. In a small bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, paprika, oil, and a little red pepper flakes. Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the pasta. The casserole can be made up to this point and then kept in the fridge for up to 2 days.
6. Bake, uncovered, for 35-45 minutes (35 was perfect in my oven) or until bubbly and golden brown.
I found this recipe in the August/September 2001 issue of Cooking Pleasures Magazine. I really didn't change much - just used different cheese and added some red pepper flakes.