Mushroom and Leek Mac and Cheese

My friends Josh and Rachel recently had a lovely, teeny little girl named Eleonora, and a friend got together a food tree of people to take turns feeding them during their first few weeks as parents. My contribution was this mac and cheese, because I figured that if I had just had such a life-changing and scary and amazing experience as giving birth, I’d need some carbs and cheese on hand.

I love mac and cheese, and especially love any opportunity to sneak vegetables into it. I got this recipe from Deborah Madison‘s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, which is a tome I turn to often to feed the many vegetarians in my life. There’s a unique kick of dijon mustard in the recipe, which adds some pizazz. Really, is there anyone out there who doesn’t like mac and cheese? It’s a hard thing to disagree with.

I used crimini mushrooms here, though Madison doesn’t specify which in her recipe. I think crimini are great cooking ‘shrooms. They open up and ooze out their juices when you saute them, imbuing the whole dish with flavor.

Mushroom and Leek Mac and Cheese
from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

3 tbsp. butter
1 celery rib, finely chopped
8 oz. mushrooms, chopped
2 leeks, white parts only, quartered lengthwise and sliced
1 tsp. dried marjoram
1/4 c. flour
3 c. milk, warmed
salt and pepper
1 heaping tbsp. mustard
1 lb. ziti or pasta of your choice
1 1/2 c. grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1 c. fresh bread crumbs

Warm the butter in a saucepan. Add the celery, mushrooms, leeks, and marjoram and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute, then quickly whisk in the milk. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season the sauce with 1 tsp. salt, pepper to taste, the nutmeg, and the mustard.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly butter or oil a 3-qt. baking dish. Cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water until barely done. Drain it in a colander, then rinse under cold water. Combine the pasta with the sauce and cheese, then pour it into the baking dish and cover with bread crumbs. Bake until bubbling and browned on top, 25 to 30 minutes.

Mac-and-cheese lover in the making.


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About Kate Soto

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