Four Cheese Mac & Cheese 🧀

I’m a big fan of classic comfort food and what’s more comforting than Four Cheese Mac and Cheese? 🧀 This recipe features sharp cheddar, goat cheese, Parmesan and asiago cheeses, but you can sub with your favorite cheeses — cream cheese is great in place of goat cheese, gruyere or gouda are wonderfully nutty, mozzarella is also good but sometimes a bit bland — experiment with your favorite varieties. This dish is creamy, indulgent and perfect for a weeknight dinner. Yum!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup of butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup of AP flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon of ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of granulated garlic or garlic powder — 2 tsps if using fresh and make sure it’s finely minced 
  • 1 cup of cheddar cheese, shredded – I prefer sharp cheddar but you can use any strength you like 
  • 1 + 2 tablespoons cup Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
  • 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs
  • 1 cup of shredded Asiago cheese
  • 1 cup of goat cheese — I like to use garlic and herb flavored but plain is fine. You can also sub cream cheese
  • 1 quart of whole milk (or 4-5 cups) — it’s important that you use whole milk for this. If you only have skim milk, then the sauce might be a bit thin so you’ll need a thicker roux
  • 1-2 lbs of your favorite pasta shape

DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and add big pinch of salt (this will season the noodles)
  • Add the pasta and boil until al dente (about 6-7 minutes) — give it a taste and it should still be firm but a soft chew. Don’t worry if you think it’s underdone since it will cook again in the oven
  • In a large saucepan or pot over a medium flame, add the butter and melt
  • Once the butter is melted, add the flour and start to stir until the butter and flour become one homegenous almost paste-like mixture
  • Cook for at least 5-6 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds so it doesn’t burn, then add your salt and pepper
Bechamel Sauce
  • While whisking, slowly add the milk — make sure the roux is completely incorporated and a smooth white sauce (also known as a bechamel) will form. This is one of the 5 mother sauces in classic French cooking. Once we add cheese it becomes a Mornay sauce
Season, season, season
  • Once the sauce has come together, add the nutmeg, dried mustard, salt, pepper, and garlic and bring to a simmer
  • Once the sauce is continuously simmering, add the Parmesan or Romano cheese and stir well
Add all the cheeses!
  • Once the Parmesan is incorporated, start adding the rest of the cheeses a handful at a time and stirring to incorporate each time — don’t add a new handful until the precious one has melted into the sauce
Bechamel becomes Mornay sauce!
  • Once the last of the cheese has been melted into the sauce, let it cook for another few minutes as it settles then turn the heat off
Add the pasta
  • Add the cooked and drained pasta to the cheese sauce and stir so every noodle is coated in cheesy goodness— resist the urge to eat the whole pot! 😉 
Cheesy goodness!
  • Add the cheese noodles to a greased 13×9 dish and flatten with your stirring spoon
Ready to Bake!
  • Mix the remaining Parmesan and breadcrumbs and sprinkle all over the top of the mac and cheese dish
  • Bake at 375 for at 25-30 minutes or until the crust gets golden brown

Enjoy with a simple green salad for a delicious midweek dinner or as a side. Yum!

Tip: want to make this dish healthier? Add some broccoli or spinach to the cheesy noodle mixture. Mmm 😋

Four Cheese Mac & Cheese

Recipe: Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

Sorry I’ve been away for a few weeks, but work’s been crazy! This recipe is actually inspired by all of the craziness. I wanted something that was not only delicious, but also comforting. This lasagna is packed full of roasted vegetables, so it’s also a healthy dinner to serve your family. This recipe might seem like it has a lot of steps, but all of them are simple and can be multitasked. So if you want to feed a crowd, or have a lot of leftovers–which are delicious!–try this recipe for Roasted Vegetable Lasagna.DSC00340DSC00341

Ingredients:

  • 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes—my favorite brand is San Marzano for its inherent sweetness, but any brand should be fine
  • ½ teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 ½ teaspoons of dried oreganoDSC00369
  • 1 tin of anchovy filets—it’s important that the anchovies are packed in oil as opposed to water since you want to flavor and richness of the oil to help flavor the sauce. Flat filets are also easier for melting into the oilDSC00368
  • 4-5 medium garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 pound of grape tomatoes—quartered whole tomatoes or cherry tomatoes could work in this dish too, but grape tomatoes are a nice size and roast beautifully in the oven
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound of cremini mushrooms, halved or quartered depending on size
  • 2 small to medium zucchini, cut into half moons
  • 2 small to medium yellow squash, cut into half moons
  • 1 green pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1 large onion, chopped roughly
  • 1 pound of ricotta cheese—it might be tempting to use low fat here, but use whole milk ricotta—trust me, you’ll taste the difference!
  • 1 cup of Parmesan cheese—shredded or grated as long as you’d eat it on your pasta
  • 2 eggs
  • 10 oz package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained—Make sure you squeeze as much water out of the spinach as you can
  • 1 box of oven ready lasagna noodles
  • 1 bag of shredded mozzarella—one of those Italian blends works too
  • 1 small ball of fresh mozzarella (optional)
  • Olive oil

To Cook:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degreesDSC00345
  2. Toss tomatoes with 1 tablespoon of oil, 1 teaspoon of oregano and salt, and ½ teaspoon of black pepper
  3. Spread tomatoes on a sheet pan and roast for 15-20 minutesDSC00343DSC00344
  4. At the same time, use a second, larger sheet pan for the zucchini, squash, pepper and onion and increase to 2 tablespoons of oil, 1 tablespoon of salt, 2 teaspoons of oregano, and 1 teaspoon of pepper
  5. Roast the veggies for around 30 minutes, while you prepare the rest of the components for the lasagna
  6. Drop the heat to 375 degrees when the veggies come out of the ovenDSC00363DSC00362
  7. While the veggies are in the oven, add enough olive oil to a big sauté pan to coat the bottom and heat on medium-high heatDSC00370
  8. Add anchovies to the pan and break them up with a back of a wooden spoon—Don’t skip this step! Even if you don’t like anchovies, the high heat will melt the filets into the oil and it will give needed background and depth to your sauceDSC00371
  9. Once the anchovy is melted, add the garlic and brown for about a minute or twoDSC00372
  10. Add the mushrooms—it’s important for mushrooms to be spread out for them to brown evenly. If they’re too crowded in the pan, then they’ll start to steam and turn rubberyDSC00373
  11. Once the mushrooms have cooked, season with a teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of black pepper,½ teaspoon of oreganoDSC00375
  12. Add the crushed tomatoes to the pan and stir—you want the seasonings to be evenly spread throughoutDSC00374
  13. Reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer until the roasted tomatoes are ready to come out of the oven, and then transfer tomatoes to the sauce
  14. Continue to simmer for another 5 minutes
  15. While the sauce is finishing up, you can work on the ricotta layerDSC00364DSC00365DSC00366
  16. In a large bowl, add ricotta cheese, parmesan, eggs, and spinach, as well as a teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepperDSC00367
  17. Whisk all the ingredients together for about 3-4 minutes
  18. Time to assemble the layers! In a 9×13 baking dish, spoon a bit of the tomato sauce on the bottom of the dish
  19. Add the lasagna noodles to the dish in a single layer all the way across—I shingled a little and also got creative by using one noodle that I cracked to fill in empty crevicesDSC00378
  20. The next layer should be some more tomato sauce
  21. Next up is a layer of the roasted vegetables
  22. After the vegetables should be a layer of the ricotta mixture—don’t skimp on the ricotta!DSC00377
  23. After the ricotta comes the cheese layer—add about ¼ of the bag of mozzarella cheese over the ricottaDSC00379
  24. Repeat the layering another 3 times, and top with a layer of noodlesDSC00380
  25. For the final layer, add a thick layer of tomato sauce all over the top, followed by the rest of the cheese, and a handful of parmesan—for my top layer, I actually like to use some fresh mozzarella since it melts so beautifully and makes for a beautiful presentation
  26. I place the whole thing onto a larger sheet tray so that if there’s spillage, it doesn’t go all over the oven floorDSC00383
  27. Bake in the oven at 375 degrees, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes

DSC00384Let it cool for at least 5-10 minutes before you cut into it. In fact, lasagna is a great make-ahead dish that you can keep in the fridge for up to 2 days before heating it. If you plan to refrigerate, make sure you add an additional 10-12 minutes to the cooking time. Also, this makes for a pretty saucy lasagna, but if you want you can reserve some extra sauce and spoon it over the top of each piece as it’s served, and garnish with some extra parmesan. Now who wouldn’t want a piece of that beauty? Buon Appetito!