Okay guys, let me guess one of your kids favorite meals… probably chicken nuggets, and I’d guess macaroni and cheese too. Am I right? Thought so lol. My kids LOVE mac and cheese. Of all forms, all flavors, even the Kraft easy mac that you microwave. They go nuts. So over the years I’ve made several varieties of homemade mac and cheese, to try to get them to “please for the love of all things holy, eat something I cooked for you!!”.
This macaroni and cheese dish isn’t just for the kids… it has some grown up flavors, and it’s a little bit healthier. Although, as you’re eating it, you won’t be able to taste that it’s healthier… all you’ll taste is a deliciously creamy sauce and some amazing flavors. Want to know the secret?
You can choose any pasta shape that you like for this macaroni and cheese… classic elbows, some penne, rotini, anything! I love the curly and fun shape of cavatappi 🙂 Part of the unique flavors of this dish comes from the cheeses used… the white cheese you see there is gruyere. It. Is. Amazing! It’s rich, nutty, and delicious. I paired it with a sharp cheddar.
To start, you’ll want to set your pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Then cook your bacon over medium heat in a large skillet, removing to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Add your chopped onion to the bacon grease and cook until golden, tender, and caramelized. While your onions are cooking, go ahead and get started on your sauce. Melt butter in a saucepan, and once it’s melted, add an equal amount of flour, whisking to combine. It will look sort of like wet sand (that’s a good thing). Let that cook for a minute, then add your almond milk, whisking until smooth. Add garlic and thyme and let it come to a low boil. Add cheeses, whisking to melt and combine completely. If the sauce gets to thick for your liking, add a splash of almond milk to thin it out. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Now comes to fun part… drain your pasta and add to a large mixing/serving bowl. Top with thawed frozen peas, bacon and caramelized onions. Pour sauce over the mixture and toss to combine well. Woohoo! Dinner is served 😀
If you prefer your macaroni and cheese to be baked, you can pour it into a baking pan, top with some breadcrumbs and a sprinkle more of the cheese, and bake until it’s bubbly and golden brown on top 🙂
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Recipe adapted from Damn Delicious
Creamy Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon and Peas
- 1 lb cavatappi pasta 16 oz
- 2 cups frozen peas thawed
- 1 lb bacon diced
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 2 cups Unsweetened Original Almond Milk
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves minced
- 1 1/2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup sour cream plain Greek yogurt may be substituted
- 1 1/2 Tbsp hot sauce optional
Cook pasta, according to package directions, in a large pot of salted boiling water. Drain.
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy. Remove to a paper towel lined plate and set aside.
Reduce heat to medium, and in the bacon drippings, saute your diced onion until golden brown. Remove to the plate with the bacon.
In a saucepan, melt 3 Tbsp butter. Once melted, whisk in 3 Tbsp flour until it resembles a paste. Cook for 1 minute. Whisk in almond milk and continue whisking until smooth.
Add garlic and thyme and bring to a slight boil. Stir in cheeses, a little at a time, until smooth, a few minutes, and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Add drained pasta, peas, bacon and onions to the sauce and stir until well combined. Stir in sour cream and hot sauce.