One of the many things we love about a mac and cheese recipe is how versatile it is. By making ingredient swaps and adding flavour boosters, you can easily create a signature meal that’s perfectly suited to your taste preferences and dietary requirements.
Place the water, macaroni, salt and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until mixture comes to the boil. Reduce heat to low-medium; cook, stirring mixture continuously, for 8 minutes or until pasta is just cooked through and liquid is thickened and reduced (the butter and starch from the pasta will thicken the pasta cooking water). If the pasta starts to catch in the corner or the mixture becomes too dry before cooking through, add a few extra tablespoons of water.
Stir in the cream, mustard and cheeses until cheeses melt. Fold in peas and cavolo nero until leaves have wilted. Season to taste and top with extra parmesan to serve.
Cavolo nero, also known as Tuscan kale or cabbage, is a leaf vegetable with long, narrow wrinkled leaves that have a rich and astringent, yet mild cabbage flavour. You could use kale, spinach or silverbeet instead if you prefer.Test Kitchen tip
Mac and cheese recipe variations
Cheeses In place of the cheddar and parmesan, use any combination of cheeses you have in the fridge. You could also replace some of the cheddar with a blue cheese, fetta, brie, Swiss or gruyère.
Cream You could use cream cheese, mascarpone, sour cream or Greek yoghurt instead.
If gluten or dairy is a dietary concern in your household, there are some simple alternatives to choose from so you can all enjoy this comfort food favourite.
Mac and cheese flavour boosters
Bacon Before starting this mac and cheese recipe, cook 4 chopped bacon slices in pan until browned; remove from pan. Stir in at the end of step 2 to heat through.
Tuna Stir in a drained 185g can tuna at the end of step 2 to heat through.
Chicken & mushroom Before starting this mac and cheese recipe, cook 100g sliced mushrooms in a little oil or butter in pan until browned lightly; remove from pan. Stir mushrooms and 1 cup shredded cooked chicken in at the end of step 2 to heat through.
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