Posted by Parmesan.com
Homemade macaroni and cheese has a long history in the United States. Thomas Jefferson mentions serving macaroni and cheese at Monticello in 1802. Though we don’t know how he served it in Virginia, this macaroni and cheese recipe uses a Four Cheese Sauce for its rich cheesy flavor (though you could use Parmesan Cream Sauce or Garlic Parmesan Cheese Sauce instead). One thing we do know about Jefferson is that he imported Parmigiano Reggiano® cheese, the only Parmesan, from Italy into the United States and served it at the White House and Monticello.
Baked macaroni and cheese can be assembled in advance and baked an hour before serving. Its flavor can be varied by using different cheeses, or by adding fresh herbs like thyme, parsley, basil, and chives to the sauce before mixing in the pasta. You can also add vegetables to this baked macaroni and cheese. Frozen baby peas, blanched broccoli florets, chopped cooked artichoke hearts or spinach work well. For a robust macaroni and cheese, add an onion that has been thinly sliced and cooked in olive oil until soft and caramelized. For this macaroni and cheese recipe use a short pasta like regular elbow macaroni, penne, rigatoni or ziti.
Prep Time - 15 min | Cooking Time - 40 min
1. Preheat the oven to 375° F.
2. Cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water until al dente. In the meantime, heat the cheese sauce.
3. When the pasta has cooked, drain it and mix with about 3/4 of the sauce. Make any herb or vegetable additions at this time.
4. Grease a 13 x 9 x 2-inch casserole dish with butter or olive oil. Put the pasta and sauce mixture in the dish, then pour the rest of the sauce over the top.
5. Mix the melted butter, garlic, breadcrumbs and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese in a small bowl until the mixture is well combined. Sprinkle this mixture over the pasta and sauce. Bake for 40 minutes until the cheese sauce is bubbling and the top is crunchy and golden. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Variation: Bake your macaroni and cheese in individual serving dishes and cut the baking time in half.