It’s warm, it’s sticky, and you don’t want to cook. It’s that time of year when you just don’t feel like it. You’re not in the mood to turn on the stove- nor are you prepared to grill anything & it’s far too hot to have the oven on. We’ve spent all freakin’ winter cooking! ENOUGH! Or maybe it’s late; no time to defrost anything or go to the store. But you’ve still got mouths to feed (or you’re starving yourself!) & they won’t take no for an answer.
Well I have the solution: three cheese stovetop macaroni.
This is my go-to macaroni & cheese recipe for the warm months. Especially after a long day gardening or working outside. It’s adapted from this recipe I posted a couple of years ago (which as adapted from The Food Network magazine). There’s no baking required, and it comes together in a flash. Minimal cooking, too. Basically all you do is make the pasta, make a quick sauce, and toast some breadcrumbs.
THREE CHEESE STOVETOP MACARONI
- 1 pound cavatappi/celentani or gemelli (or other spiral pasta)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- pinch of freshly ground black pepper
- 1 12-oz. can evaporated milk
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 cup shredded sharp yellow cheddar cheese
- 3/4 cup shredded monterey jack
- 3/4 cup shredded colby cheese
- 3/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs (either panko or regular)
- Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil; add the pasta and cook until al dente.
- Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour & cayenne pepper and stir with a wooden spoon to make a paste. Cook, stirring, until the paste fluffs slightly, about 1 minute. Whisk in both milks and add 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, then simmer, whisking occasionally, until slightly thickened and creamy, about 6 to 7 minutes.
- Add the cheddar and jack cheeses and whisk until melted; keep warm.
- Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small saucepan. Add the breadcrumbs and cook until just toasted and slightly browned. Remove from heat.
- Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup cooking water, and return to the pot. Stir in the cheese sauce, adding the reserved cooking water (only if needed). Season with salt and top with the breadcrumb mixture. Serve.
I like to serve the breadcrumbs separately, in a little bowl. That way people can add as much or as little as they like. Also, when you’re halfway through a bowl it’s nice to add more.
The creamy factor of this mac is amazing.
And let me just say- if you’d like to bake it, then you may (some people, like Jay, enjoy those crunchy, burned little cheesy bits you get in a baked macaroni & cheese). About 15-25 minutes in a 375° degree oven or until it’s bubbly. But you definitely do not have to. It’s meant for immediate consumption!
Don’t get me wrong, this makes a great winter or fall dish too.