The Ultimate Fall Veggie Mac N' Cheese
So this to me is the ultimate comfort food and so insanely delicious! Would have loved to have also thrown in some braised short rib, but didn’t have any on hand and zero time to run to the store, so!, that being said, this is a veggie mac n’ cheese with mushroom, butternut squash, corn and minced parsley and topped with pea tendrils in a red-wine vinaigrette and pickled red onions (just trust me). Give it a try and let me know your thoughts!
Serves: 3-4 (large servings)
Prep: 10 mins
Cooking: 30 mins
Total: 40 mins
16 oz Pasta of choice (I like Penne)
3 c Milk (whole, 2% or 1%)
1.5 oz Unsalted Butter (always unsalted)
1.5 oz AP Flour
1 c Crimini Mushrooms - sliced
1 c Butternut Squash - roasted, cut into 1/4 in cubes
1 c Corn
1/4 c Parsley - minced
1/2 c Cheddar Cheese - grated
1/2 c Mozzarella Cheese - grated
1/4 c Parmesan Cheese - grated
1 c (loosely packed) Pea Tendrils
1 T Red Wine Vinaigrette
1/3 c Pickled Onions (pickle at least 1 day prior to using)
Salt to taste
Nutmeg to taste
White Pepper to taste
For the pasta:
Get a large pot and fill with enough water to completely cover the pasta and bring to a hard rolling boil. Once boiling, and a generous amount of salt (should taste like the sea) and add pasta. Cook until tender, but still with a bounce to the bite (al dente). Once cooked through, drain the pasta into a colander and toss with a little oil, which will keep the pasta from clumping together.
For the sauce:
Begin by heating a pan over medium heat. Once warm, add your butter and allow to completely melt. Once melted, add your flour and whisk to break up all clumps. Once fully incorporated, add milk in three stages (50%, 25%, 25%) - I find everything works better when working in 3’s - and whisk until smooth. Allow to come to a boil, at which point you will begin to find your sauce starting to thicken. Once to proper consistency, cut the heat, add your cheddar and mozzarella cheese, and whisk until smooth and incorporated. Add salt, white pepper and nutmeg to taste.
For the filling:
Turn the broiler portion of your oven on (which we’ll use just to finish the dish). Once sauce is set to go, add your mushrooms and allow to simmer for 10 mins at a low heat. Then add your pasta, squash, corn and minced herbs and toss until everything is beautifully coated. Once everything is all mixed together and gorgeous, put into a casserole dish and sprinkle with 2/3 of your parmesan. Place under the broiler until golden brown.
Hit your pea tendrils with a light sprinkling of salt then toss in the red wine vinaigrette (I use a simple, base dressing that I make for this sort of thing - canola oil, red wine vinegar, dijon, shallot, salt and pepper). Place a heaping portion of the mac n’ cheese onto your plate of choice, top with pea tendrils and finish with pickled onions.