loaded up brie mac & cheese

Mac and Cheese is the ultimate comfort food.

If you’re anything like me, there is nothing better than settling into your kitchen after a long day at work, tying on your apron, and setting to work preparing dinner. Call me crazy, but sometimes the more involved the recipe is, the more soothing it is for me. You see, the kitchen is my safe haven, my place of calm, where I like to unwind. There are days when the stresses of work and everyday life just get to me, and all I can think about is making it to 5:00 and getting home to cook dinner. Call me crazy, and people certainly have, but to each their own, right?

The hubs and I have been on a bit of a Brie kick lately. This was one cheese I was never particularly fond of, or at least I thought that. Typically, the stinkier the cheese is, the more I like it. Pass me over a wedge of tangy Blue Cheese, perhaps a cube (or three!) of briny Feta, or some shavings of tart Romano cheese, and I’m a happy girl. It’s never been about the texture for me, but I’ve just always been drawn to bold flavors. Brie never really fit the bill.

Until one day last November, that is. For a “Friendsgiving” party a girlfriend of mine threw, I was tasked with some appetizers and a few side dishes. I’ll save the recipe for another time, but my dears, the Brie was the star. And it totally opened my eyes to the vast possibilities of cooking with it.

Flash forward to this week. One day not too long ago after work, I knew it was going to be one of those nights. A long, unwinding time in the kitchen, grating cheese, chopping veggies, the whole deal. Perhaps a glass of wine, if I may be so bold. I had been mulling over this particular mac & cheese recipe for some time, waiting for the perfect opportunity. And then inspiration struck me –Β let’s jazz it up, because why not? A quick glance in the refrigerator was all I needed; roasted vegetables could only make this even better, right? And toss in some salty prosciutto….now we’re getting somewhere.

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This does take a little bit of time to prepare, but the result is well worth the time (and the resulting dishes). Creamy Brie marries wonderfully with the sharp Cheddar and nutty Parmesan, and the roasted vegetables provide textural contrast to the smooth mouth feel of the dish. And if you’re willing to part with half of the dish (I only cook for two, so I do this quite often), immediately transfer half of the recipe into a freezer-safe dish for another time. All the perks of two rich, homemade meals….but only the work of one kitchen round. I think we can all get behind this, yes?

Enjoy!

~~~

Loaded Up Brie Mac & Cheese {adapted slightly from Half Baked Harvest}

1 bag of Brussels sprouts, washed and removed of any unsightly leaves, and cut in half from top to bottom

1/2 head of cauliflower, washed and trimmed to the size of the Brussels sprouts

1 package of good prosciutto, cut into cubes

3 tbsp. unsalted butter

1 box of DeLallo pasta (I used a whole wheat shell)

1 clove garlic, minced

1 onion, finely diced

1/4 C. all purpose flour

2 C. milk (I used 1%)

1 C. low sodium chicken stock

7 ounces Brie cheese (I opted to leave the rind on, as I enjoy the flavor of it…but feel free to remove)

3 ounces sharp white Cheddar cheese

4 ounces Parmesan cheese

heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard

salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 – 1 C. panko bread crumbs

To make:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray and spread the Brussels sprouts and cauliflower in an even layer. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast until browned and crispy, tossing once, about 25-30 minutes. Set aside.

Reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees. Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once a boil is achieved, generously salt the water. Add in the pasta, and cook until al dente (you want it to have a bit of bite to it still, as it will finish cooking in the oven). Drain well and set aside.

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While the pasta boils, add 3 tbsp. of your butter to a medium skillet and melt. Add in the garlic and onion, and saute for several minutes. You want the onions to be slightly soft and translucent. Season with salt and pepper, then whisk in the flour. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the flour cook in with the butter/garlic/onion mixture for one minute. Gradually whisk in the milk and stock, raising the heat up to medium-high. Bring to a boil, whisking frequently until the sauce has thickened, about 3-6 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in all of the cheese, Dijon mustard, and additional salt and pepper to taste. Stir until the cheese is fully melted. Stir until the cheese is fully melted, and then fold in the roasted Brussels sprouts, roasted cauliflower, and cubed prosciutto.

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Transfer to a prepared baking dish, and sprinkle the top with panko bread crumbs.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the panko is golden brown and the sauce is bubbling. Let sit for 5 minutes, then dig in!

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8 thoughts on “loaded up brie mac & cheese

  1. This sounds INCREDIBLE– I’m a sucker for brie but have not yet put it in a mac & cheese recipe! Once I make it, I’ll let you know how it turns out :) xoxo

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