I remember the first time I made mac and cheese from scratch it was in university. My friend Jonny came over with his girlfriend and the promise of making me the best mac and cheese. And I was not disappointed. That recipe he showed me has remained as my favorite mac and cheese recipe.
It’s cheesy like we would expect but it is also creamy, salty, savory, and has a nice sweet caramel flavor with a satisfying crunch from the breadcrumbs. What more would you want from mac and cheese?
You can use any cheese combinations. My favorite is 100g of gruyere, 100g of white cheddar, and 100g of parmesan. It is a nice balance of savoury, salty, and creamy. However, I made this recipe with the cheese I had at hand, and it still came out delicious!
Inspired by the best mac and cheese I had in my university kitchen with some of the best friends, I developed this recipe, a vegetarian alternative. This has become my go-to for special group occasions and it doesn’t disappoint. It’s easy, makes a lot, and will be sure to not disappoint.
- 400g of pasta
- 150g of cheddar
- 200g of parmesan
- 1 large leek
- 250g of mushrooms
- 2 cloves of garlic
- ¼ cup of breadcrumbs (or make your own)
- 3 tbsp of butter
- 3 tbsp of flour
- 1 cup of milk
- Olive Oil for cooking
- Salt and Pepper to taste
You can make your own bread crumbs by deeply toasting 2-3 slices of bread and grating it. (See Right) Feel free to use whatever ingredients you have on hand. I am sure it will be delicious with nearly any mixture of cheese and mushrooms.
- Preheat your over to 180C/350F fan.
- Thinly slice the mushrooms and leek and mince the garlic. Then set aside.
- Grate the cheese and set aside. Make sure to also set aside 50g of the Parmesan. It will be used for topping.
- In a pan heat some olive oil on medium-high heat and cook the mushrooms until golden brown. This takes about 10 minutes.
- Remove the mushrooms and set aside in a bowl.
- Next, add a bit more oil and cook the leeks and garlic until the leeks are golden. This takes about 10 minutes.
- Remove the leeks and set aside in a bowl. You can have it in the same bowl as the mushrooms.
- In a large pot, start cooking your pasta. You want to undercook it by 3-4 minutes. The pasta will finish cooking in the oven.
- In a sautee pot, turn the heat on low and gently melt the butter.
- Once melted, slowly add the flour. I recommend adding a tbsp at a time and mixing it in well before the next one to prevent lumps.
- Cook until the flour has absorbed all the butter and creates a doughy paste. If it is too liquid, you can add a bit more flour at a time.
- Then, slowly mix in the milk. Make sure to stir continuously. You will stir until it is thick enough to smoothly coat the back of a spoon.
- Then gradually add the cheese into the rue to ensure it completely melts. Then mix in the mushrooms and leeks.
- Taste the cheese sauce and add salt and pepper accordingly. Drain your undercooked pasta and add it to the cheese sauce with the mushroom and leeks. Make sure that the pasta is evenly coated and the veggies are well mixed in.
- Transfer mixture to a greased/lined large baking dish. Then top it with the breadcrumbs and then the remaining parmesan cheese.
- Place it in the oven for 20-25 minutes to get the breadcrumbs golden and the cheese melted.
- Take it out of the oven. Let it cool for a few minutes (if you have the patience of a saint) or dig right in! Just be careful the food will be hot!