Macaroni and Cheese
Dress up a basic bowl of macaroni and cheese with a variety of mix-in options for a hearty wintertime meal.
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 ounces dried elbow pasta
- 2 cups dried bread crumbs or panko
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 4 tablespoons melted, plus more for baking dishes
- 1 pound assorted cheeses, such as Parmigiano Reggiano, cheddar, Gruyere, mozzarella, fontina, or Monterey Jack, finely grated
- 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Mix-in of choice (optional; see below)
Broccoli and Caramelized Onions
- 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen broccoli, coarsely chopped
- 2 onions, julienned and cooked in 1 tablespoon olive oil until caramelized, about 25 minutes
Tuna with Capers and Olives
- 2 (5-ounce) cans water-packed albacore tuna, drained
- 1/3 cup capers, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup chopped pitted green olives
Peas and Ham
- 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen peas
- 3/4 pound coarsely chopped cooked ham
Spinach and Feta
- 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen spinach, squeezed dry
- 2 cups crumbled feta cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, generously salt and add pasta. Cook 2 to 3 minutes less than manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together bread crumbs and 4 tablespoons melted butter; toss to coat. In a second large bowl, mix together cheeses. Transfer 1 cup cheese to bowl with bread crumb mixture and toss to combine; set aside.
Butter eight 6-ounce shallow baking dishes or one 1 1/2-quart shallow baking dish.
Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat, add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Whisk in flour and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until bubbling but not browning, about 45 seconds. Add milk and whisk to combine. Bring to a simmer, stirring with a wooden spoon, until thickened, about 4 minutes. Add remaining cheese, stirring until completely melted and sauce is smooth. Season with salt and pepper, add dried mustard and cayenne, and stir to combine.
Add pasta to sauce and stir to thoroughly combine. Fold in one of the mix-ins, if desired. Pour into prepared baking dishes and sprinkle evenly with the bread crumb mixture.
Place dishes on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until bubbling and cheese is golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.