Cultural Exploration for Mac and Cheese Nation


It is still frosty and chilly around these parts of New England and it is on days like this that I find a baked Mac and Cheese irresistible. Comfort food, as they say, and a well made mac and cheese provides all that and more.


I like to include lots of vegetables as a base. Mac and Cheese can be boring. All that white food. I roasted onions, carrots, parsnips, rutabaga and turnip to give extra flavor, color and texture. Despite being root vegetables, they add another dimension. I roasted them in olive oil, sea salt and bay leaf.


The cut of pasta named Chiocciole translates as snails. It is meant to resemble one. This pasta is made from a grain named Kamut, also known as Khorasan wheat. Kamut is an ancient grain. It’s DNA is similiar to the wheat we know but it is a lot older than wheat. Long story short, it’s good for you and you do the exact same things to it as you would wheat.


The sauce is important. You do not want wall-paper paste.
A classic Bechamel sauce is butter, flour, milk, salt and perhaps nutmeg. Once you add cheese, it assumes a different title in the French kitchen. I used cheddar. And now the sauce is called Sauce Mornay, or cheese sauce. Simples. I also added roasted garlic to my Sauce Bechamel or Beschiamella in Italy. This is going to enhance my roasted root vegetable mac and cheese.


Bake it. I used parsley and scallion herbed breadcrumbs on top.


I like to pile the mac and cheese in the baking dish about an inch or so high. It bakes quicker this way. Plus you get little bits of seasoned and herbed breadcrumbs in every mouthful. Thanks for reading.