My favorite foods are grilled cheese with tomato soup, pizza, pasta and mac and cheese. Oui, I have the food palate of an 11 year old. When it comes to my favorite mac and cheese, it’s hands-down a Martha Stewart mac and cheese recipe my friend Annie shared with me a few years ago. I make it about twice a year – generally for Thanksgiving, my annual game night party and cold winter evenings at home, and it is always a huge hit.
Over the years, I’ve made a few adjustments and this weekend I added roasted broccoli and tomatoes to this recipe for my first time. I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out, but it was freaking amazing. The flavor of the shallots blended nicely into the rue sauce and the roasted broccoli added a slight smokiness to the mac and cheese. Seriously – Rio even rated it an 8 out of 10! That may seem kind of unimpressive to you but Rio is a tough critic and rarely rates anything a 7 and above. And usually when it comes to things I cook, he rates it like a 6, and rarely a 7 or 8. Yeah – he’s a sweet one, this guy. The only other thing I make he really loves is my Chinese Fried Rice recipe…and that’s because Rio could eat rice three times a day if possible.
So, here’s my modified version of the Martha Stewart mac & cheese recipe. I’d like to say it’s healthy since there’s broccoli and tomatoes, but it’s definitely not. What it is, is a comforting hearty dish that pairs perfectly with a night in while snuggled on the couch watching movies or a game of football (what we did last night). Bon app, mes amis!
Roasted Broccoli Mac & Cheese
1 pound of shell-shaped pasta (or a 500 gram bag of pasta)
3 small to medium heads of broccoli, chopped into small florets
2 tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick and then halved
1 shallot, minced
6 tablespoons butter (85 grams)
5 1/2 cups skim milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly grounded black pepper
1/2 teaspoon grated cayenne pepper
5 cups of sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded (2 Seriously Strong cheddar blocks at Monoprix would do)
1/4 cup of parmesan cheese, grated or shredded
1/4 cup of pecorino romano cheese, grated
5 tablespoons breadcrumbs
– Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (205 Celsius)
– Toss broccoli and tomatoes with olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Put on separate baking pans and roast in oven for 30 minutes. Shake it a bit half-way through.
– Saute minced shallot and butter in a large saucepan. Once butter starts bubbling a little, add flour and stir for one minute. Make sure to mix the flour well with the butter.
– Add milk one cup at a time, whisking the sauce so it thickens a bit before you add another cup. For the last cup and a half, add the spices along with it.
– Once the sauce is thickened and starts bubbling, remove it from the heat. Add 4 1/2 cups of cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese and 1/8 cup of pecorino romano cheese and mix.
– Heat up a pot of salted water until it boils and cook the pasta about 2 minutes less than the indicated cooking time. Rinse with cold water and drain well.
– Take the veggies out of the oven (they should be done by now, if not about 10 minutes ago). Lower oven temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 Celsius).
– Butter a casserole dish and add the macaroni, broccoli, tomatoes and cheese. Stir well.
– Top this cheesy deliciousness with the remaining cheese and sprinkle breadcrumbs on top. Bake it in the oven for 30 minutes.
Mac & Cheese Tips
– You could use regular elbow macaroni, but I prefer pasta that has bigger nooks & crannies for the cheese to ooze into.
– The Martha Stewart recipe says to heat up the milk in a separate pot before adding it to the butter and flour, but since I don’t feel like washing an extra pot, I don’t do this. This may take longer for the sauce to thicken though.
– The Martha Stewart recipe also uses toasted diced white bread (crusts removed) mixed with melted butter as the breadcrumbs, but having done this a few times in the past, I prefer just regular store-bought breadcrumbs.
– If you like a little kick to your mac and cheese, you can add more cayenne pepper. I’ve already doubled the amount that the recipe generally calls for and find 1/2 teaspoon to be perfect for my tastes.
– And if all this cheese wasn’t enough for you (seriously?), you can also sprinkle a bit of extra pecorino romano in each individual serving.
– I usually use 4 cups chedddar, 1 cup gruyere and 1/2 cup pecorino. But use whatever cheese you feel like! I like the sharpness of pecorino, so always think that’s a nice addition.