Gourment Mac & CheeseSubmitted by: LALUNABLUE41
1 pound medium shells or cavatappi
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups milk
8 ounces thick-sliced bacon, crumbled
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup fresh red pepper, chopped (optional)
4 Tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups assorted grated cheese (see list above)
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder (optional)
2 Tablespoons finely minced fresh or dehydrated basil leaves
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
Boil water and 1 tsp salt in a large 3-4 quart saucepan. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Immediately drain and rinse. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat milk in a medium saucepan to hot, but not boiling.
Using the pan the pasta was cooked in, cook the bacon until crispy. Remove to paper towels to cool, saving some of the reserved bacon fat in the pan. Add butter and saute the chopped onion and optional red peppers in the fat until tender. Add flour and stir, cooking for another 1-2 minutes.
Slowly add the hot milk to the flour and onions, whisking constantly until thick, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Add cheeses and stir until melted and blended.
Combine the pasta, crumbled bacon, pepper, cumin powder and 1 Tablespoon basil to the cheese mixture. Stir well and pour into prepared baking dish.
Combine crushed crackers and the remaining basil, and sprinkle over the macaroni & cheese.
Bake at 375 degrees for 35-45 minutes or longer, until cheese is bubbling and the top is a light golden brown.
Serves 6-8 depending on serving size.
Refrigerate any leftovers.
Number of Servings: 8
Recipe submitted by SparkPeople user LALUNABLUE41.