What is the perfect macaroni and cheese? I am always trying to figure that out as my kids love it (and my husband, too!). I resort to” better” boxed versions without food coloring or additives; with whole grain macaroni. However, I feel compelled to make my own cheese sauce with fresh ingredients and stirred in my own cauldron. When a box filled with Cabot Farmers’ Legacy Cheddar Cheese arrived on my doorstep, it was like the stork gently laying down a bundle of culinary opportunities for me. After all, so many delicious dishes include cheese.
This is a special month, I am a Cabot Fit Team Leader for Cabot’s Virtual Legacy Race to celebrate Cabot’s 95th year running strong as a cooperative. The best part is proceeds of the race go to the hunger relief organization, Feeding America. You can set your own distance and pace, too! Join me in the race – find out more here.
Not only do I love the shining, regal-looking packaging, but each of the three Legacy cheddars: Farmhouse Reserve, Alpine Cheddar and White Oak Cheddar has a distinct flavor. From sharp to nutty to buttery, it’s fun to taste test them all.
For today’s mac and cheese concoction, I fancied it up and boosted the nutrition a bit with tri-color penne. There’s spinach and tomato imbedded into the noodles, which I love. I use Barilla pasta as they make various veggie varieties. Plus, it’s a great way to get more veggies on to my family’s plates. Penne, elbows and rotini seem to be the best shapes to hold the creamy cheese sauce.
In a few simple steps, I made a cheese sauce that passed even my kids’ picky palates. (I was careful not to add to much flour to thicken the sauce as my first go-round resulted in clumpy mess that I had to discard.) For a nutrition boost, I use King Authur White Whole Wheat Flour.
Tricolor Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 4 (1/2 cup servings)
2 cups, tricolor pasta or elbow macaroni
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1.5 Tablespoons white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup milk, 1% fat
1/4 cup Cabot Farmhouse Reserve Cheddar Cheese, cut onto small chunks
1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
Fill a large pot with water, place on stove top over high heat and bring to a boil. Add pasta. Boil for 10 – 11 minutes (for al dente pasta). Drain pasta into a colander and set aside, covered.
In the meantime, put oil into a small saucepan on the stovetop over low to medium heat. Stir in flour forming a roux-like mixture, add milk and cheese and continue stirring until heated through and cheese melts. Sprinkle in the paprika and stir. Mix cheese sauce into cooked pasta. Spoon into ramekins and top with a few shavings of cheddar and serve immediately.
Nutrition Information (per serving): Calories: 427, Total Fat: 9 g, Saturated Fat: 3 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 92 mg, Sodium: 95 mg, Carbohydrates: 70 g, Dietary Fiber: 0 g, Sugars: 2 g, Protein: 16 g
Enjoy eating simply,
P. S. I hope you join me in the Cabot Virtual Legacy Race, too! (Although, I am a member of the Cabot Cheese Board, all recipes and opinions are my own.)
Your Mac & Cheese looks amazing, Vicki! We’re thrilled you’ll join Cabot as a Fit Team Leader for our Virtual Race.