The temperature took a nose dive this week and all I could think about was making some sort of warm and cozy comfort food for dinner. Macaroni and cheese is a family favorite, so with that in mind, I did some searching and found a recipe that not only satisfies my children’s desire for lots of cheese, but has enough other goodies, like crispy prosciutto and sun-dried tomatoes, to please the grownup’s palates as well. To make this dish healthier and include some whole grains in our dinner, I used Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Elbows. In addition to be being better for us, these whole wheat noodles can stand up to the rich cheese sauce without becoming mushy and the whole wheat taste does a nice job of complementing the other amazing flavors in this dish. I knew as soon as I pulled this Three Cheese Whole Wheat Macaroni with Crispy Prosciutto and Sun-dried Tomatoes out of the oven that it would be the perfect meal to warm us up on a chilly fall night – and boy was I right. It’s fantastic.
The first step is to put together the cheese sauce. Begin by adding the milk, half-and-half, chicken base, garlic and a dash of cayenne pepper into a medium-sized pot. Heat the mixture over medium heat until simmering, whisking every now and then to keep the ingredients combined. Once the mixture has simmered for 1 to 2 minutes, remove from the heat and set aside.
Next, in a fairly large pot, melt the butter and then stir in the flour to create a roux. Cook the flour mixture for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Now, slowly add the milk/half-and-half mixture to the pot, whisking as you pour to avoid lumps from forming. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring frequently, until the sauce has thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Once thickened, remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cheeses, one at a time, whisking to combine each cheese into the sauce until smooth. Then whisk in the lemon juice. Set aside.
Next, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Elbows for 7 minutes. Drain and set aside.
As the noodles are cooking, cook the prosciutto in a large skillet over medium heat until golden brown and crispy. Remove the cooked prosciutto to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and set aside. If you’re not familiar with it, prosciutto is a type of Italian bacon that gives this macaroni and cheese a wonderful richness and smoky flavor. Regular bacon won’t work as well, so if you can’t find prosciutto, just leave it out. This dish has so many other great ingredients it can stand on its own without the prosciutto if need be.
Once the noodles have been cooked and drained, immediately pour them into the cheese sauce and stir to combine.
Add the sun-dried tomatoes next and stir.
Pour about half of the macaroni mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking pan that’s been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle about half of the prosciutto over the top and then spread the remaining macaroni mixture over the top.
Sprinkle the cheeses over the top of the macaroni and set aside. This dish is macaroni and cheese to the max.
Next, mix together the panko, olive oil and Italian seasoning in a small bowl until well combined. Sprinkle this mixture over the top of the macaroni and cheese. This breadcrumb topping will become a crispy, crunchy crust over the macaroni and cheese and will very likely make you weak in the knees.
Bake the macaroni and cheese in a 350°oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cheese is hot and bubbly and the breadcrumb topping is golden brown and crispy. If the topping needs additional browning, turn the oven broiler on and allow it to crisp up a bit further for a minute or two.
Remove the dish from the oven and top with the remaining prosciutto and some chopped, fresh chives. Serve immediately.
This Three Cheese Whole Wheat Macaroni with Crispy Prosciutto and Sun-dried Tomatoes is exactly what I was looking for in a delicious comfort food dinner. I loved everything about this dish from the creamy cheese sauce to the rich flavors from the prosciutto and sun-dried tomatoes to the heart healthy whole grains from the Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Elbows Add a crispy, crunchy panko and herb crust on top and I’m head over heels for this macaroni and cheese.
Embrace the cooler temperatures outside and make a big pan of Three Cheese Whole Wheat Macaroni with Crispy Prosciutto and Sun-dried Tomatoes to keep you warm, cozy and satisfyingly filled with good food. Enjoy!
Three Cheese Whole Wheat Macaroni with Crispy Prosciutto and Sun-dried Tomatoes
- 1 recipe Three Cheese Sauce (below)
- 3/4 box Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Elbows
- 8 oz. prosciutto, diced
- 1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes, diced
- 1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 1/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese, grated
- 1/4 cup gruyere cheese, grated
- 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 3 Tbsp. chives, chopped
Cook the elbow noodles in a large pot of salted water for 7 minutes; drain and set aside. Cook prosciutto in a large skillet until golden brown and crisp. Remove prosciutto from skillet and drain on paper towel-lined dish. Set aside. Add cooked elbows to three cheese sauce along with sun-dried tomatoes. Stir well. Pour half of the macaroni mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking pan that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle half of the prosciutto over the macaroni mixture. Spread remaining macaroni mixture over the top of the prosciutto and sprinkle evenly with cheeses. In a small bowl, combine panko, olive oil and Italian seasoning. Sprinkle over the top of macaroni and cheese. Bake macaroni in a 350°oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until cheese is hot and bubbly and breadcrumb topping is golden brown and crispy. If the topping needs additional browning, turn oven broiler on and allow it to crisp up a bit further for a minute or two. Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining prosciutto and fresh chives. Serve immediately.
Three Cheese Sauce
- 4 cups milk
- 2 cups half & half
- 1 Tbsp chicken base or bouillon
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp salt
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 9 Tbsp Hodgson Mill Naturally White Flour
- 1 ½ cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 ½ cups Monterey Jack cheese, grated
- 1 ½ cups Gruyere cheese, grated
- 1 ½ tsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
Heat milk, half-and-half, chicken base, garlic, salt, and cayenne in a medium-sized pot until simmering. Remove pot from heat, set aside. In a large pot, melt butter and then add in flour and stir to combine. Cook flour mixture for 1-2 minutes and then slowly pour in milk/half-and-half mixture into the pot, whisking constantly to avoid creating lumps. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring frequently, until the sauce has thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Once thickened, remove pot from heat and stir in cheeses, one at a time, whisking to combine each cheese into the sauce until smooth. Whisk in lemon juice. Set aside until ready to use with the rest of the macaroni and cheese ingredients. Cheese sauce can be made up to one day ahead, cooled completely and stored in an airtight container in refrigerator until needed. Cheese sauce will need to be gently re-heated before using.
I used oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes in this dish I used a Swiss and Gruyere cheese combination for the Gruyere in the macaroni and in the cheese sauce because that’s what I had on hand. Regular Gruyere is recommended, but the Swiss/Gruyere combination tastes great as well. I suggest grating your own cheese whenever possible to achieve the creamiest results in this macaroni and cheese. Pre-shredded cheese tends not to melt as well.
Makes approximately 8 servings
Adapted from thecozyapron.com
You can find Three Cheese Whole Wheat Macaroni with Crispy Prosciutto and Sun-dried Tomatoes and other recipes from Hodgson Mill by visiting the Recipes page.