Mac & cheese is one of the happiest dishes there is. I know what you’re thinking: “That’s just like…your opinion, man.” Well, it is. And I love it when I’m right.
This one is particularly good because it’s full of mushroomy deliciousness. I found chanterelles on sale and used those, but you could use any mushroom. You’re probably better off with cremini or button mushrooms. To heighten the flavor a bit, you might consider roasting the mushrooms first, or swapping the cheddar to something lighter like Doux de Montagne.
But especially great with this is the topping: a crumble of french bread, parsley, parmesan and chopped portobello “bacon.” Which isn’t real bacon, obviously, and for meat-eaters, it won’t be the same. It will, however, be delicious and an acceptable breakfast side for anyone, vegan or otherwise, as well as a great way to add some meaty, smoky elements into this dish while still keeping it vegetarian-friendly. I got the idea for the portobello bacon from a friend, who introduced me to Libby Pratt’s blog.
- 1 pound large shells, cooked to al dente
- 1/2lb mushrooms of your choice, roughly chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- pinch of salt
- pinch of black pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup butter plus 2 extra tbsps
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 1 tbsp whole grain Dijon mustard
- 4 cups milk
- 5 cups shredded sharp cheddar
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 large portobello mushroom cap, sliced and marinated in this marinade
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 3-4 pieces of french bread, crumbled
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan
- Preheat oven to 400F. Melt the 2 tbsps butter in a large pot w/ the olive oil. Add in the mushrooms and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cooked down and soft. Add in the salt and pepper, the rest of the butter and the flour. Stir to get everything well incorporated and cook for a couple more minutes. Add in the parsley and dijon. Add in the first two cups of milk, stirring well, and then the next two, slowly. Let the milk warm up and then add in the cheeses, 1-2 cups at a time, stirring constantly to give it time to melt and smooth out.
- Add in the cooked pasta and then pour the entire mixture into a large oven-safe pan. Cook at 400F for 30 minutes.
- Drain the portobello slices. Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add in the canola oil. Fry the portobello slices until browned and slightly crispy on the edges, 3-5 minutes per side.
- Remove them from the pan and drain them on paper towels. Add the tablespoon of butter to the pan and melt it. Toss in the breadcrumbs and toast them until crispy. Chop the portobello slices and add them to the pan, along with the parsley. Fold everything together.
- Pull the baked macaroni out of the oven and sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the top, and then the quarter cup of parmesan.