3 crowd pleasing spins on mac ‘n cheese

Anyone taking culinary courses online will learn to make a wide variety of comfort foods, from apple pie to tamales. However, nothing beats a bowl of macaroni topped with gooey cheese sauce.

Part of what makes mac ‘n cheese so great is that it’s endlessly customizable. Whether you prefer to just throw some bread crumbs on top of a classic recipe or experiment with a truly radical new take, there’s a version that’s perfect for you. Find inspiration for your next pasta dish in one of these inventive spins on macaroni and cheese.

1. Step up your mac with umami awesomeness

“It’s always a bold choice to add the savory taste of truffles.”

It’s always a bold choice to add the savory taste of truffles, but it’s one that can pay off by making a dish more irresistible than ever. Popsugar suggested a stovetop macaroni recipe with a sauce that brings together two flavorful cheeses and truffle butter.

Start by boiling a half pound of elbow macaroni in a stock pot until al dente. Drain the pasta and set it aside.

Melt two tablespoons of butter in the same pot on medium-high heat. Saute sliced mushrooms for six minutes and move them into a bowl.

Pour two cups of milk into a saucepan, setting on low heat. When bubbles start to appear, turn off the burner.

On a low heat, warm two tablespoons each of truffle butter and unsalted butter in the stock pot. Whisk in flour, forming a paste. Gradually stir in the warm milk before whisking in Brie and Gruyere.

Once the cheese totally melts, add the pasta and mushrooms to the pot. Continue cooking as you stir the ingredients together. Finish the dish by seasoning to taste with salt and pepper and topping with grated Parmesan and parsley.

2. Get ready to rage by adding Cajun shrimp

Cajun-style shrimp is a seafood classic that’s almost as satisfying as mac ‘n cheese. Combining the two is a recipe for greatness, as Lemons for Lulu demonstrated. These directions call for a pound of jumbo shrimp that are peeled and deveined.

Warm olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Saute onions and green peppers for two minutes before adding garlic. Cook another minute, and then set the vegetables aside.

Add three tablespoons of butter to the skillet, followed by the shrimp and Cajun seasoning. Toss the shellfish to coat and cook for two or three minutes. In a pot, cook a pound of campanelle pasta.

Set a large saucepan on medium heat, adding butter and flour. Whisk until combined and then mix in heavy cream. Drop heat to medium-low, continuing to cook until the mixture thickens slightly.

Mix in cheddar, Jack and Parmesan cheese. Then, toss the pasta and vegetables in the sauce before moving into a cast-iron skillet coated with cooking spray. Position the shrimp on top.

In a bowl, mix regular breadcrumbs, panko and melted butter, and then sprinkle onto the pasta. Place the skillet in an oven set to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for up to 15 minutes, or until the cheese sets. Finish by switching to the broiler until the cheese bubbles.

Macaroni and cheese is so versatile, you don't even need to use real cheese.Macaroni and cheese is so versatile, you don’t even need to use real cheese.

3. Turning a cheesy delight into a vegan-friendly feast

When you think of great vegan dishes, macaroni and cheese is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. Fortunately, Serious Eats set out to change that with a recipe that skips the dairy but still features an extra-creamy sauce.

To prepare the sauce, start by melting shortening in a skillet on medium heat. Add onions and garlic, cooking for four minutes. Then, stir in paprika, garlic powder, tomato paste and spicy brown mustard. Cook another minute, or until the mixture becomes fragrant and starts sizzling.

Add four ounces of peeled, thinly sliced russet potato and a cup of cashews. When the cashews are lightly toasted, add water, miso paste and almond milk. Simmer and stir frequently for 10 minutes. Move the mixture to a blender, throwing in salt and hot sauce before blending at high speed until smooth.

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