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Throw out healthy eating for one night and splurge on this over-the-top version of the classic pasta and cheese sauce dish. I have spent years perfecting the right kinds of cheeses and right the amounts to make this sophisticated, comforting and above all ooey-gooey.
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Time: About 20 minutes active; almost two hours total
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 pound pasta, chiocciole, if you can find it
4 cups whole milk
2 1" slices of onion
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour
8 ounces white cheddar, raw milk, if you can find it, grated
6 ounces Italian fontina, grated or chopped
6 ounces aged Gruyere, grated
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Bring a pot of water to boil with salt. Add pasta and cook only 6 minutes, very al dente. Drain, rinse and set aside.
3. In a medium pot, heat milk over medium-low heat with onion slices, bay leaves and peppercorns. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat and let steep 15 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, add butter to a large pot and melt over medium heat. Add flour and make a roux by whisking into the butter until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Strain the milk into the mixture and continue whisking, about 5 minutes, until thickened. Turn heat to low and whisk in all the cheeses until melted and smooth.
5. In a large casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray, add pasta, then cheese sauce and mix well until all the cheese is incorporated into and around the pasta. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Place casserole dish on a cookie sheet and bake 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes before serving.
Writer Bio: Adrienne D. Capps loves food AND is a vegetarian! These things are not mutually exclusive in her world. She is passionate about eating, drinking, cooking, teaching, reading about food and growing food. Her goal with her food blog, Vegetarianized.com, is to open up the world of vegetarian cooking and eating to the veg-friendly and the veg-curious in an accessible way. She promises never to try to convert or make you feel guilty—just that eating less meat can be part of a healthy, fun and, above all, tasty lifestyle.