The search for the perfect mac and cheese recipe is a definite passion of mine. Recently, for a fast family dinner I put together this creamy macaroni and cheese topped with a mixture of panko breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese and loved the results. Corkscrew-shaped cavatappi pasta is surrounded by a creamy, sharp cheese mixture and topped with a crunchy, savory panko Parm topping. I’m hooked, and hope you will be too!
Panko Parmesan-Topped Macaroni and Cheese Recipe (adapted from this Babble Food recipe)
1/2 lb. Cavatappi (or other preferred pasta)
4 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon room temperature unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
2 teaspoons plus 1 teaspoon sea salt
3 cups cheddar, grated
1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a medium-sized 11 x 7 inch baking dish and set aside.
Fill a large stock pot with water and bring to a boil. Add 2 teaspoons sea salt and the pasta. Cook to al dente, about 5 – 6 minutes. Drain and add to the prepared baking dish.
Meanwhile, melt 4 tablespoons butter in a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour, and then slowly whisk in the milk so that you maintain the thickness of the mixture. Turn heat to low, and stir mixture for 3 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of sea salt, all of the cheddar, and 1/4 cup of parmesan, and stir to incorporate.
Pour the cheese mixture over the pasta, stir gently, and set in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes.
While the mac is baking, combine the remaining Parmesan, panko, and butter using your fingers to mix the butter with the cheese and panko. Set aside.
Remove baking dish from oven and sprinkle the panko Parm topping over the top. Bake for another 15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and the top is a light golden brown.
Remove from oven, cool for 5 minutes, and serve.
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