Shells and Cheese

Nothing says comfort food than macaroni cheese to me. It’s always nice to have some on a rainy day.

In this version, sage and buttery onions flavor the cream sauce and coat the al dente pasta shells. The buttery bread crumb topping and layer of cheese creates a crust and provides an extra element of flavor and texture.

Adapted from Alton Brown and My Father’s Daughter

  • 1/2 pound pasta shells or rice shells (gluten-free)
  • 2 tablespoons gf flour
  • 2 cups soy milk
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
  • a few sage leaves
  • 16 ounces extra sharp cheddar, shredded
  • coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup panko or gf bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons butter or Earth Balance

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and turn it on to the convection setting if that’s a possibility.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta for 2 minutes less than indicated on the package. Meanwhile, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it’s free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion and sage leaf. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the sage leaves.

Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the shells into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.

Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the shells with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

Milk, butter and sage sauce (L) Butter, flour and onion roux (R)

Whisking in cheddar cheese

Panko or gluten-free bread crumbs with melted butter

Layer cheese and bread crumb mixture onto macaroni and sauce

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