On any given day my cheese drawer is bulging. I love it but can’t justify eating it regularly pre- or post-dinner, especially on a weeknight. What to do with it all? Macaroni and cheese is one of the best ways I know to use up a large quantity.
The mixed-cheese pizzas and pasta sauces out there are made with relatively mild cheeses. Would all the bold ones hanging out in my fridge get along in one dish?
I opened the drawer and started pulling out the nubs and chunks. Although I’m sure all of my double and triple cremes would have worked, I didn’t want to make a dish that rich. I settled on a mix of grated gruyere and sharp cheddar and crumbled blue and goat, and if I hadn’t reached the pound mark, I would have thrown in little Manchego.
I suspected this mac and cheese would be good but, in fact, it was superior to my usual made with all sharp cheddar. Two other improvements: Greek yogurt in place of sour cream lightened it a bit and increased the protein. Fresh breadcrumbs rather than dried improved flavor and texture. If you don’t have parsley, don’t worry. It’s mostly there for color.
It’s Meatless Monday. Maybe it’s time to clean out that cheese drawer?
What’s-In-Your Fridge Mac & Cheese
Serves 8 to 12
1 pound (16 ounces) pasta shells or macaroni
1 pound (16 ounces) grated or crumbled cheese you’ve got
1 container (16 ounces) low-fat cottage cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 container (16 ounces) Greek yogurt
Ground black pepper
2 cups fresh bread crumbs
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)
3 tablespoons melted butter
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Bring 2 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon of salt to boil in a large soup kettle over high heat. Using package directions as a guide, and stirring frequently at first to keep it from sticking, boil pasta, partially covered, until just tender. Drain.
Meanwhile, mix cheeses and yogurt in a large bowl. Add hot pasta; toss to coat. Adjust seasonings, including pepper. Turn in to a vegetable spray-coated 13- by 9-inch baking dish.
Mix bread crumbs, parsley, and butter. Sprinkle evenly over shells and cheese. Bake until casserole is bubbly and crumbs are golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Serve.