Tag Archive for mac ‘n’ Cheese

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

When you think about your ultimate comfort food, I’m guessing that it includes cheese. For me, it’s probably grilled cheese, or alternatively, mac and cheese. 

We all probably grew up with it; those horrible orange-coloured, cello-wrapped slices of fake cheese melty between two slices of bread, and, of course, the blue box, with that nuclear-orange-coloured packet of powdered cheese. 

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

Photo credit: Jeremy Dyson

But you’re not a kid now! You’re a grown-ass adult, and you deserve a grown-ass adult mac and cheese. 

What I love so very much about this recipe (which I have now been making for ages, but never actually bothered to post) is that it makes your favourite comfort food in about the same amount of time it takes you to make a boxed mac and cheese, except that it’s homemade. 

That’s right, kids. Homemade mac and cheese in the time it would take you to make boxed. 

We owe this amazing feat to that culinary MVP, the Instant Pot. 

Yes, yes, I’m obsessed. Noted. Moving on. 

So, in addition to this mac and cheese being quick, it can also very happily become a party. 

On a regular night, if you just need to feed the kids (or yourself after the bar, no judgement), I would pair this with a nice salad. 

But if you want to party with the mac and cheese, it’s down. Make a double batch (at least) and then break out a bunch of accoutrement. Dish up big, gooey bowls of mac and cheese, and then allow people to top it as they see fit. Kinda like sundaes, but with pasta. How can that be bad? 

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese Bar

Photo credit: Jeremy Dyson

Here are some topping ideas: 

  • Toasted breadcrumbs (panko is king if you can get it)
  • Cherry tomato slices
  • Chopped fresh herbs (basil would be especially good here)
  • Arugula dressed with a little olive oil and salt
  • Caramelized onions 
  • Fancy flavoured salts
  • Balsamic reduction
  • Truffle oil (for the most fanciest, grown-up-est mac and cheese)
  • Bacon bits, pulled pork or pork belly for the omnis 

Add a salad and some crusty bread, and you have a mac and cheese party! 

A quick word about cheese: obviously cheddar is traditional. I like to use a mix; gruyere is great, because it has that beautiful stringy consistency when it melts. I also like to throw a little hard cheese into the mix; a pecorino or a parmesan. They have a nice nutty flavour, and add salt as well. I will basically use whatever I have on hand, but if I’m making it to serve to a crowd, I’ll seek out some fancier cheeses. Fancier cheeses = more grownup mac and cheese. 

Finally, it’s easy to adapt this recipe to be gluten free. Because it’s not made in a traditional way with a roux, just swap out your regular pasta for gluten-free, and you’ll be golden. 

Mac and Cheese Instant Pot

Photo credit: Jeremy Dyson

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese 

(serves 2-4)

Ingredients

  • 225 g dried elbow macaroni 
  • 2 cups water 
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika 

Method

  1. Place 2 cups of water in the Instant Pot, along with the salt and the macaroni. Give it a good stir. Place lid on, seal, and set to manual pressure cooking for 4 minutes. 
  2. After the 4 minutes are up, open the seal and allow the pressure to release. 
  3. Stir in the butter, milk, and smoked paprika. Stir until the butter is melted. 
  4. Add the cheese and continue to stir until it melts. If the sauce is too thin, turn on the sauté feature on the pot and allow it to cook down until you get the desired consistency. 
  5. Serve immediately. 

 

Secretly Healthy Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Is stealthy healthy a thing?? Because if it’s not, it should be.

When The Sprout was younger, he was a notoriously picky eater (take heart, moms with picky toddlers, this too shall pass). It was incredibly frustrating. So, I took to what I called “sneaky mom cooking.”

Being a sneaky mom involved me basically sneaking vegetables and other healthy ingredients into foods he liked. And disguising the vegetables in such a way that he would never know he was eating them. I got him to eat Chocolate Zucchini Cake (sold as chocolate cake, of course), and I got him to eat brownies made with black beans (yay, fibre!).

secretly healthy mac n cheese

Like most kids, he likes Mac and Cheese. Now, I do keep a box of the stuff on hand for emergencies, but for the most part, I am snobby about my mac and cheese. I make it from scratch. It’s not even that much more complicated than the stuff from the box.

Because I make it from scratch, I can sneak all kinds of healthy stuff in there that he has no idea about.

This recipe is one I’ve been making for a while. There’s three things that make this recipe sneakily healthy: first off, the cheese sauce is fortified with a dose of vegetables (in this case cauliflower, but I’ve also used yam or squash), the pasta is packed with fibre (sneakily), and the crunchy breadcrumb topping is also high in fibre.

I’ve been using Catelli Smart Pasta for years. I love it. It looks and tastes like white pasta, but it has way more fibre in it. I know, you could just buy whole wheat pasta, and that would also be high in fibre, but I find it harder to cook with, and I find the kids sometimes reject it, because the texture is not as soft as regular pasta. Catelli Smart has 8 grams of fibre per serving, which is 32% of your recommended daily allowance of fibre right there!

catelli healthy harvest ancient grains

Catelli just launched a new line, called Healthy Harvest Ancient Grains. In addition to being high in fibre, it has other health benefits as well, as it incorporates flax, which is a source of Omega-3s, and quinoa, which has protein.

High fibre and hidden veggies are what make this mac and cheese sneaky. Your kids (or your vegetable hating boyfriend–wait, is that just me?) will never know.

Secretly Healthy Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Ingredients: 

  • 2/3 of a box of Catelli Smart or Healthy Harvest pasta, macaroni or rotini
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup of smooth cauliflower, squash or yam puree
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (I like using a mix of old cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan)
  • 1 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs plus 3 tbsp melted butter

Method: 

  1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted, boiling water for about 6-7 minutes. The pasta can be al dente, as it is going to bake in the oven, and soften some more. Drain in a colander, and allow to sit while you make the sauce.
  2. In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and stir well, to make a roux. Add salt and pepper, and the nutmeg. You can also add a dash of garlic powder, as well. Add the cauliflower puree, and then the milk, stirring well, allowing the sauce to come back up to the boil and thicken. Once the sauce has thickened, add the cheese. Taste and adjust the seasoning, or if the sauce is too thick, add a little milk to thin it down.
  3. In a large bowl, toss together the sauce and the pasta until well coated. Turn out into a casserole dish.
  4. For the topping, melt the butter in the microwave, and mix into the breadcrumbs in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the top of the mac ‘n’ cheese. Finish with an additional grating of cheese over the top.
  5. At this point, you could freeze the mac ‘n’ cheese for another day, if you like.
  6. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about half an hour, or until everything is hot and bubbly.
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