The weather is getting cooler and the days are getting shorter….autumn seems just around the corner. And while I do love my autumn nights, this summer has been nothing short of lovely and I’d love it to continue just a bit longer. Leisurely picnics, tennis games that stretch long into the evening and bike riding in skirts and bare legs are things I’m not ready to give up yet. But fall is a time that brings me closer to home and that means comfort foods eaten on the couch while watching black and white movies. Yes, autumn does have it’s pull. And this is where the homey, rich and borderline sinful mac n’ cheese takes it’s rightful place alongside of me on the sofa.
macaroni and cheese with broccoli
3 T butter
3 T whole wheat flour (hey, it was all I had & I never noticed any difference)
1/2 t red pepper flakes
2 3/4 c skim milk + an additional 3/4 c
4 c sharp cheddar, grated
2 t dijon mustard
salt & pepper to taste
1 500g pkg of macaroni or any short pasta
1 head of broccoli, cut into florets & stalks trimmed and chopped
1 T butter, melted
1 c panko bread crumbs
1. Prepare pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, prepare the topping by adding the panko crumbs into the melted butter. Stir well and set aside.
2. In a medium sized saucepan, melt butter and whisk in the flour and red pepper flakes. Cook for 3 minutes and then slowly add in the 2 3/4 c of milk. Whisk constantly while bringing to a boil. When it’s thickened, add in the cheese, mustard, salt and pepper. Add remaining milk, stir well and remove from heat.
3. Just before the pasta finishes cooking, add the broccoli to the boiling pasta and cook until the pasta is finished and the broccoli is bright green, about 4 minutes or so. Drain well and put the broccoli and pasta into a large baking dish. Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and mix well, making sure the sauce covers all the pasta. Sprinkle topping over the pasta and bake until golden and bubbly, about 30 minutes.