Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sage Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is another one of those things you just can't have enough of.  I mean, can you ever have too many delicious macaroni and cheese recipes?  I don't think so!  This is another macaroni and cheese recipe that takes this classic and add a unique spin.  I love the addition of sage. 

To be honest, I had never really cooked much with sage until the past few weeks.  I must say, I love the flavor the addition of sage lends not only to the recipe but all the other recipes I've tried recently.  Sage has a unique flavor, it's probably one you probably either love or hate, and it lends a very earthy flavor a dish.  I, personally, love the flavor of sage and think it dramatically enhances this dish.  However, if you don't like the sage flavor, simply omit it from this dish and you still have a delicious and very cheesy entree or side.

This particular recipe comes together fairly quick and is perfect for a weeknight meal.  While the pasta is cooking the sauce mixture can be prepared.  It's the simplest process of heating milk and melting butter.  Once the milk is warmed simply add the cheese to melt, toss in the pasta and combine then divide into baking dishes.  Top the pasta with more cheese (doesn't it sound good already?), then place in the oven to melt the cheese to ooey gooey deliciousness.  You then have a perfect main dish that can be served with a nice big salad or a perfect side dish that will compliment most any main course. 

Sage Macaroni and Cheese

1 Pound ditalini, or other small pasta
1 3/4 Cups half and half
3/4 Cup milk
8 Oz cream cheese
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
1 1/2 Cups grated Romano cheese
1 Cup shredded parmesan cheese
3/4 Cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 Cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 Tbsp fresh sage, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp diced onions
1 Clove garlic, minced


Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly spray 8 (4oz) ramekins with non-stick cooking spray, set aside.

Cook pasta according to package instructions, reserve 1 cup pasta water and set aside.  Drain the pasta, place in a large bowl and set aside.

To make the sauce-
Combine cream cheese, half and half, milk, and 3 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter and cream cheese have melted, about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, place remaining tablespoon butter in a small skillet.  Place skillet over low-medium heat and all butter to melt.  Add the onion and garlic to the butter and saute until onions begin to turn translucent and mixture is fragarent, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat. 

Add Romano, shredded parmesan, shredded cheddar and 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, as well as the onion and garlic to the hot milk mixture and stir to combine.  Pour the sauce over the pasta and stir to combine.  Season with salt and pepper and add sage, stir to combine. 

Evenly divide macaroni and cheese into the prepared ramekins.  Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup grated parmesan.  Place ramekins on a baking sheet, transfer to oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until cheese is melted and the tops are golden-brown.  

Recipe Source: slightly adapted from Country Living via Delish

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