What’s-In-Your-Fridge Mac and Cheese

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 and Cheese
 
by:
Serves: 8 to 12
Ingredients
  • Salt
  • 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
  • ½ 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
Instructions
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

 

6 Comments

  1. sandy oldfield says

    we always have a full cheese drawer!! although i wouldn’t put my expensive cheese into this recipe, it looks like a great way to use up odds and ends as well as blue cheese that’s gone crumbly, cottage cheese and sour cream. i have always made a white sauce and added cheese and this saves that step — yay!!! easy AND it uses up a bunch of leftovers, too.

  2. mindy says

    I love this idea! Thank you!!! Right now my refrigerator is filled with all sorts of odds and end cheeses. My husband will be delighted as mac and cheese is one of his favorites from growing up in the south.

  3. Jacqueline says

    What a wonderful idea! I have Thanksgiving & Christmas cheese glaring at me every time I open the drawer…so I’m making this tonight.

  4. Catherine says

    I made your mac and cheese (from Perfect Recipe) a few weeks back for new friends in WA. So, so good. We devoured it. Might have to try this adaptation next…

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