Is there anything better than a sizzling pan full of gooey homemade Macaroni and Cheese? I think not. Add in a side of roasted garlic tomatoes with olive oil, balsamic and garlic and it’s pretty much a match made in heaven.
I love macaroni and cheese and homemade is best. Growing up, it was one of my favorite meals. I remember getting so excited when my mom would break out the pasta, cheese and milk for her famous mac and cheese. It was one of her specialties, served with a side of stewed tomatoes. The recipe she made called for grated onions (which isn’t typical in macaroni and cheese) but which added just the right “zip” to it. No matter your age, there is something so satisfying about digging your fork into a hot pan of pasta and cheese.
This recipe is adapted from a cookbook one of my best friends sent me. We incorporated the grated onions, as is tradition in our family (feel free to leave out if you aren’t a fan) and used a regular and sharp cheddar which I like best in a macaroni and cheese recipe. It’s divinely delicious. We doubled the recipe because who doesn’t want leftovers?!? And the recipe is super easy so perfect for weeknight cooks as well!
Ingredients: this is the doubled recipe
- 4 cups macaroni (we used penne pasta)
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter
- 6 slices prosciutto, cut into strips
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 3 cups milk, warmed in microwave
- 3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 3/4 cup grated regular cheddar cheese
- 1/2-3/4 cup finely grated onions
- Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Position a rack in the center.
Fill a large saucepan with water and a decent amount of salt to cook your pasta. Salt it like the sea! It flavors the pasta which is super important. Make sure not to cook your macaroni completely. Al dente is the way to go as it will continue cooking in the oven. Just grab a noodle out after 5 minutes or so and take a test bite. It should still be chewy, but not tough. When finished cooking, drain pasta in a colander and run cold water over it to keep it from clumping.
Add 2 tbsp of the butter to a pan and melt over medium-high heat. Add the prosciutto and toss it around in the pan until it’s crispy, about 2 minutes. Transfer the prosciutto to a plate with some paper towels and allow to cool and the paper towels to soak up any extra oil. Put the panko in a small bowl. Pour the hot butter left in the pan over the panko and toss to coat. Set aside.
Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the remaining 4 tbsp butter. When the butter is melted, sprinkle in the flour and 1/4 tsp salt. Cook, stirring, until the flour becomes foamy, about 1 minute. Whisk in the warm milk. Stir until the mixture is thickened and saucy, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Next it’s time to layer. Put down 1/3 of pasta in the bottom of your baking dish. Sprinkle some onions on top and 1/3 of the cheese. Next add in some prosciutto. Repeat two more times. Pour the milk and butter mixture over everything and pat down the pasta a bit so everything is evenly distributed. Sprinkle the panko bread crumbs on top and transfer to the oven to bake. Start testing after 20 minutes or until the mixture is bubbly and the top is lightly browned (you want to get some browned bits which are always the best part!)
I served this with roasted tomatoes which are so good and simple. I made these first and then turned up the heat for the mac and cheese.
Preheat oven to 325°F. Grab your favorite tomatoes (I’ve used large cherry and San Marzano’s in the past). If using cherry, cut in half. If using a larger San Marzano, cut into quarters. Place in a bowl. Salt liberally. Add in a good amount of olive oil and balsamic vinegar (keep the ratio to 3:1.5 – 3 parts oil to 1.5 part vinegar). Grate about 3 cloves of garlic and add to the bowl. Give it a big stir. Get out a baking sheet and place parchment paper on top. Fold up the edges so that the liquid from the tomatoes can’t ooze onto the actual pan. This is important. That liquid tastes amazing and you want to keep it for the dish. Cook for about 25 -30 minutes stirring occasionally or until they gain some color. They may burst a bit but it’s all good. The flavor is delish!
Serve everything together. This would be great with side salad of arugula dressed simply with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and some thinly sliced green apples. Bon Apetit!