Baked Macaroni & Cheese with Peas

January 29, 2012 at 1:50 am 1 comment

Macaroni and cheese is my favorite food. I’ve been searching, for years, for a good standard recipe, and I am very pleased with the one I put together for dinner tonight.

This recipe is NOT original; instead, it’s a Frankenstein’s monster composed of great macaroni and cheese recipes. I started with Mark Bittman’s recipe for “Simpler Macaroni and Cheese” from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. Bittman’s recipe is an excellent recipe for baked macaroni and cheese, in which – rather than making a white sauce out of milk, butter and flour, melting cheese into it, and then mixing it with noodles – you layer noodles, cheese, milk, and butter in a casserole dish and bake it.

(FYI, my boyfriend has both of Bittman’s iPhone appsHow to Cook Everything and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian – and they are awesome. I definitely recommend them for beginning cooks; for almost any dish I can think of, Bittman has written an elegant, simple, easy-to-follow recipe. The books are supposed to be great, but I love how easy the apps are to navigate.)

I altered the recipe from Bittman’s book, to accommodate my own laziness and need for very clear structure while cooking. (Last time I tried to make this, I got confused while trying to layer everything – that’s why my version is overly specific). I added frozen peas (per Elana Karp’s recipe) so the meal wouldn’t be entirely devoid of nutrients.

I also changed the ingredients a little, based on what I normally have in the pantry. (Bay leaves? What am I, an adult?)  To make up for the lack of bay leaf, I also added mustard powder (because it’s yummy) and garlic (because The Local Jam sprinkles their Jam Mac with some sort of garlic/breadcrumb/sea salt topping, which I love).

This was definitely a keeper. Peas aren’t my favorite vegetable, but they gave this some nice sweetness and texture. The overall unhealthiness of the macaroni (cheese, butter, milk, pasta) made the peas quite palatable!

 Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Peas


– 1 lb whole wheat short pasta (elbows, penne)
– 1 bag (1 lb) frozen peas
– 2 cloves garlic
-2.5 cups milk
-4 tbsp butter
-3 tbsp flour
– 2.5 cups grated cheese (I used about half sharp cheddar, ¼ mozzarella, and ¼  “shredded Mexican blend,” which I think included cheddar and Monterey Jack)
– ½ c breadcrumbs (ish – I just eyeballed this)
– 2 tsp salt
– 1 tsp mustard powder
-Black pepper (I tried to estimate about ½ tsp, but was honestly just eyeballing it straight from the pepper mill)


– Big baking dish (my 4 qt dish had plenty of room)
– Garlic press (or a cutting board and knife)
– 2 medium prep bowls (1 to hold your cheese, another to hold flour, salt, pepper, and mustard)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 and grease a baking dish with 1 tbsp of your butter. Combine flour, salt, pepper, and mustard in a prep bowl.
  2. Cook pasta in boiling, salted water to where you would normally give it another minute or two, and drain in a colander. (If you don’t have a garlic press, peel and chop your garlic while pasta cooks.)
  3. Return pasta to the pot and mix in frozen peas. Peel garlic and press it into the pot; mix well.
  4. Layer 1/3 of the pasta/pea mixture into the baking dish.
  5. Sprinkle with about half the flour mixture.
  6. Fleck with half the remaining butter (basically, drop a few lumps of butter over the top of the noodles. I cut my remaining butter into 8 chunks with a butter knife, and placed 4 of them on the casserole for this step).
  7. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheese.
  8. Layer another 1/3 of the pasta/pea mixture.
  9. Top with the rest of the flour mixture, and fleck with the rest of the butter.
  10. Sprinkle another 1/3 of the cheese on top.
  11. Layer the rest of the pasta on top.
  12. Pour the milk over the top of the casserole.
  13.  Layer the rest of the cheese on top, then top with a layer of breadcrumbs.
  14. Bake around 30 minutes, till it’s bubbling/browned on top.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Link: Easy One-Pot Mac & Cheese Recipe Vegan Ricotta-Style Lasagna Filling

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This is a cooking blog by someone who is not particularly good at cooking. I'm a lazy person who aspires to make simple, awesome, healthy food at home.


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