A delicious twist on a comforting family favourite!
My family has always loved homemade mac ‘n cheese and it’s no wonder. After all, isn’t it just like a warm, creamy, comforting, satisfying hug in a bowl? I tend to always use the same basic recipe I developed years ago and then experiment with lots of different additions; this week’s new combination really hit it out of the park. In the right proportions, the simmered, tender kale adds a nice pop of colour and flavour, without overwhelming the dish. And bacon – why not? I like to prepare this in single-serving casserole dishes which is a great way to ensure everyone gets their fair share of bacon; individual portions are also ideal as a make-ahead option for busy families with staggered mealtimes.
- 2 cups (500 mL) small pasta (macaroni or shells are great)
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) butter
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) all-purpose flour
- 2 cups (500 mL) milk
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) smoked or regular paprika
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups (500 mL) grated extra old white cheddar
- 2 cups (500 mL) finely chopped kale leaves, stems removed
- 1 cup (250 mL) diced cooked bacon
- 3/4 cup (180 mL) fresh breadcrumbs or Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) bacon fat or butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Cook noodles in a medium pot of salted, boiling water until just tender.
- While noodles are cooking, make cheese sauce: melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat; stir in flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
- Gradually whisk in milk, paprika and a dash of salt & pepper.
- Simmer, stirring often, for 4 minutes, until smooth and thickened. Stir in the grated cheese until blended, then stir in the kale. Let simmer on low for 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Prepare topping in a small bowl by combining breadcrumbs and 2 tablespoons melted bacon fat or butter. Set aside.
- Add the drained macaroni to the sauce, stirring to mix well. Pour half the mixture into a greased 8 inch (20 cm) square casserole dish (or four 1.5 cup/375 mL oven-safe dishes), then sprinkle with half the bacon bits. Top with remaining noodle and sauce mixture, then sprinkle remaining bacon bits and breadcrumbs evenly over top.
- Bake for 10 – 15 minutes until the breadcrumbs are browned & cheese sauce is bubbly. (You’ll need to bake a bit longer if you’ve prepared the mac ‘n cheese ahead of time and refrigerated.)
Excited to try this since the Pinterest one wasn’t fantastic. Thing they may make me take the Kale out.
Sent from my iPhone
Even the non-kale lovers in my house liked this! Trick is to cut it up very small. Let me know what you think after you try it!
Wouldn’t think it’d be possible to improve upon perfection, but you’ve done it, Paula.
You are too kind, my friend. Thank you!