What comes to your mind when you hear “comfort food”? There are a few dishes that I love to have when the craving for comfort food hits. Meatloaf and mashed potatoes, grilled cheese and tomato soup, and macaroni & cheese. So it’s no wonder when I go to Panera Bread that I usually will get a small side of their creamy, cheesy and delicious macaroni and cheese. I mean all of that sharp white Vermont cheese and pasta together with a creamy sauce; how can you not eat a bowl full?
I decided to try to make this one at home so that I can stay in my pajamas and binge watch Netflix while eating some comfort food. Plus I found a cool shaped pasta at Aldi’s and was saving it for just this occasion. The shape is called cavatappi and looks like a long curly elbow pasta with ridges. Those ridges hold the creamy cheese sauce very well. The recipe is super easy and it’s great as a side dish or main meal. Panera used to have their recipe on the website and it does call for American white cheese as well as the white cheddar but I rarely have that on hand and I just up the sharp cheddar. You don’t even miss it – oh my goodness, it’s so good and making it at home means I save money and will have leftovers for the next day. Two days of comfort food, yes!
If you love Panera’s Macaroni and Cheese (or just love macaroni and cheese) make it at home with this copycat recipe. It’s ultra creamy, cheesy, and heavenly good. Simple ingredients for a simple and classic dish.
Copycat Panera Macaroni and Cheese
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 cup milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 cup shredded sharp white cheddar I love to use Cabot’s seriously sharp cheddar
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 lb pasta, cooked (small shapes like elbow, shells, or cavatappi)
- Cook pasta according to package directions while making the sauce. Drain and set aside, keeping warm, until ready to use.
- In a large pot on medium high heat, melt butter then whisk in the flour and cook for about one minute.
- Reduce heat to medium, add milk, cream, dry mustard, salt and pepper.
- Continue whisking until it begins to boil. Reduce to heat to low and add the white cheddar cheese; stir until melted. Add the cooked pasta and stir until it is well combined.
- Remove from heat and allow to sit about 5 minutes to thicken before serving.
- To reheat any leftovers, add a bit of milk to the pot of mac and cheese while heating over low heat.