Whole wheat rotini and cheese

I know that a lot of people don't care for whole wheat pasta, but it really has come a long way in the past few years--it's not the same muddy, muggy, chewy, overly nutty stuff I first tried a few years back, the first time I was on the South Beach Diet. And oh my gosh, does it make an awesome mac 'n' cheese ...
whole wheat mac 'n' cheese

whole wheat mac 'n' cheese

Basically, I cooked the noodles (and, in this case, carrot medallions) to al dente while I made the sauce--mixed up and seasoned a roux (equal parts butter and flour with some paprika, salt, and pepper), added four times the milk and brought it to a simmer, then melted in twice as much cheese (some leftover sharp cheddar and colby). I've never quite made this recipe the same way twice, since I've gone along according to what type of pasta and cheese I've used and whether I've added anything, like veggies. In somewhat more careful terms, for a half dish (I usually cook to serve one and have leftovers, and I have smaller dishes to match--a pie plate should work here):

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Cook 2 cups of whole wheat pasta to al dente.
3. Melt 3 Tbsp butter.
4. Stir 3 Tbsp flour until smooth.
5. Season with a dash of paprika, a pinch of salt, and a dash of pepper (and minced garlic, diced onions, whatever else is around ... and edible).
6. Stir in 1 cup milk until smooth and just starting to simmer.
7. Stir in 2 cups (about 8 ounces--not all cheeses are created or shred up equally) of shredded cheese until the mixture is smooth and saucy.
8. Pour into baking dish and spread bread crumbs over the top.
9. Bake 45 minutes to an hour, until crumbs are toasty and cheese is bubbly.

Then there's the optional egg. It adds good richness and helps with binding. If you want it, temper an egg into the bechamel (butter, flour, and milk sauce) before adding the cheese.

Comments

Marvin said…
I never knew you could add an egg to a cheese sauce. Will definitely give that a try.

I also like to douse my mac and cheese with tobasco!
Julie said…
Marvin, I never knew mac and cheese didn't come out of a blue box until a few years ago. And ... I sometime add a shot of ketchup to my mac 'n' cheese. I think tobasco is more common, though. ;)
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