Is there anything more hearty and comforting than a ridiculous amount of cheese baked into a heavenly warm and gooey dish? What if that dish cost less than $8 to make?
Here’s a bit of inspiration to make your own #gtmfinds creations, inspired by Martha Stewart’s classic Macaroni and Cheese recipe (because is there anything she can’t cook?). We sourced our Lemon Grove store for a treasure trove of ingredients to make our own Breadcrumb Coated Mac & Cheese — the perfect intro to the cozy Fall season that we San Diegans have been waiting for.
For our recipe we took advantage of the Organic Pastures Raw Cheddar deal we got in at the stores, priced at 68¢ a bag. Cooking up a batch of Mac & Cheese was the perfect way to make use of this short-dated cheese and prolong its fridge life by baking it up into something spectacular! The only added ingredients were a stick of butter and 1/4 cup of flour, which most homes keep as pantry staples. Once you have all of your ingredients set out, start by cutting a stick of butter in half, setting aside one part to butter a small casserole dish.
The recipe does call for a bit of multitasking and preparation but comes together in a flash. In one pot heat up your milk, while the other will be used to make a roux (a mixture of butter and flour that will be used to make the sauce nice and thick).
Once the butter melts and starts to bubble (and while the milk warms in the other pot), add the flour and immediately start whisking so as not to burn the mixture. After about 1 minute, you’ll add the warm milk to the roux, whisking quickly to make sure everything blends nicely and lump free. You can use a glass measuring cup to transfer the hot liquid little by little to avoid spills or carefully pour it directly from the pot.
While the béchamel (a French word for this classic white sauce) cooks, heat a pot of salted water and add in your pasta of choice once it’s boiling. We skipped the classic macaroni and opted instead for Dellalo’s Whole Wheat Biodynamic Fusilli Pasta, which will perfectly hold all of that delicious cheese and sauce and add a heartier bulk to the dish.
While the pasta cooks, make sure to stir the béchamel mixture constantly until it bubbles and thickens. Once it’s rich and thick, remove it from the heat and add the all-star ingredient: plenty of cheese! We combined our Raw Cheddar with an Italian Blend from Applegate Naturals to create more depth of flavor than your standard boxed mac & cheese, and it did not disappoint. Add some salt and pepper (and a dash or two of cayenne pepper) and whisk away until the cheese is melted into the sauce.
When the pasta is slightly undercooked but just about done, drain it and add it to the sauce. All of this deliciousness will go into your prepared buttered baking dish.
Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the dish and then top with breadcrumbs. Here, we swapped Martha’s big chunks of buttered bread for this crumb topping to add a seasoned, flavorful crunch in each bite. While our dish is not gluten free, you can find many gluten-free items (like pasta and breadcrumbs) at GTM that could easily substitute into the dish. Finally, pop into a 375 degree oven and get ready for the wafting smell of joy to tease your nose while you wait!
You’ll hardly be able to wait to take a bite before it cools, but it will be worth it! Warm, gooey, and comforting, the entire dish can easily serve 6-9 people for about $1 per serving. Now that’s what we call a major GTM savings!
Check out the full recipe below; we halved the recipe for our dish, so if you are planning to make the full amount, a 3-quart casserole dish will work best.
Breadcrumb Coated Mac & Cheese (adapted from Martha Stewart’s Macaroni & Cheese)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for casserole
1/2 to 1 cup bread crumbs
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more for water
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar cheese
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Pecorino Romano cheese or Italian Blend
1 pound pasta of your choice (we used fusilli)
1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside.
2. Warm the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Melt the remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When the butter bubbles, add the flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.
3. While whisking, slowly pour in the hot milk a little at a time to keep mixture smooth. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick, 8 to 12 minutes.
4. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar cheese, and 1 1/2 cups Italian blend (or Pecorino Romano); set the cheese sauce aside.
5. Cover a large pot of salted water, and bring to a boil. Cook the macaroni until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir the macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.
6. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheese and the breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes; serve.
If you venture into this creamy, cheesy territory, we want to know how yours turned out! Post or send us a picture of your creation using the hashtag #gtmfinds; we’d love to see what you create.
GTM Community Team