These last couple weeks have been a whirlwind of activity. Work, work and more work, camping in the Smokies, a trip to Asheville and a 9.5 on the Richter Scale of a sinus cold.
I made time today to grocery shop, make dinner and have a night at home (it’s the Master Chef finale tonight)! Lately I’ve been having major mac and cheese cravings; it is comfort food you know. I thought about making the macaroni somewhat (and I mean somewhat) healthier by adding a few veggies. The outcome was pretty much magic in my opinion.
1 pound fusilli (or other dry pasta)
1 broccoli crown chopped into florets
1 large sweet onion
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups half and half
1 pound block white cheddar cubed
1/2 cup herbed breadcrumbs
1/4 cup shaved Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
S&P to taste
Start by melting butter in a saucepan. Chop onion into thin, lengthwise slices. Once butter has melted, add onion and salt. Stir regularly until translucent and soft over medium low heat (25-30 minutes). Meanwhile bring another pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Heat half and half either on the stove, or in the microwave until warm (this way it blends into the sauce). Once onions are caramelized, add two tablespoons flour to the onion and butter mixture. Stir until well blended for 1-2 minutes, this also cooks the flour taste out! Slowly add warm half and half to the sauce. Continue to add until fully combined. Next, add cubes of cheese and stir often over medium low heat. Salt and Pepper sauce to taste, and add nutmeg.
Cook pasta for a couple minutes less than box instructions (it will continue to cook in the oven). The fusilli I used said 10 minutes and I cooked for eight. Add brocoli florets to the boiling pasta water for the last 4 minutes of cooking. Drain the pasta and broccoli, set aside.
Once cheese sauce is ready, add pasta and broccoli to the pot. Stir to combine, and pour into cast iron skillet/ baking pan. Top with bread crumbs and Parmesan.
Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.