When the weather outside has a chill to it, creamy pasta dishes such as this homemade macaroni and cheese are what I crave. Not only is this vegetarian pasta dish made from store cupboard ingredients, it is also budget friendly.
When we first moved to Canada, I remember two things from my first visit to a grocery store there: 1. the shelves packed with iconic blue boxes of Kraft Mac n cheese and 2. tins of creamed corn which I had never seen before, so I wanted to combined the two in this recipe. And this creamy, soft, cheesey pasta, is winter comfort food at its best. Perfect for a freezing cold Canadian winter; a milder Australian winter; and all other winters inbwetween!
Blending tinned or frozen sweetcorn into the sauce not only makes it sweet, rich and creamy without adding cream; it ‘hides’ the vegetable, making it a great dish for picky eaters.
Making cheese sauce from scratch can sound complicated, but it is actually simple and you only need 4 ingredients! The tip with making a smooth sauce is to add the milk a little at a time and whisk vigorously inbetween with a balloon whisk.
This mac and cheese recipe serves 4 as a main meal with nothing on the side; 6 when served with chicken or vegetables. You can easily halve the recipe to make enough for 2 people to enjoy too.
- Use block cheese and grate it yourself. The pre-grated/shredded cheese is coated with an anti caking agent and therefore won’t melt as well.
- Cook your pasta slightly less than the packed states for al dente. You want your pasta to be soft but not mushy and overcooked.
The beauty about this dish is that you don’t need to serve anything with it! Although I personally think you can’t beat a crisp salad with a hot creamy pasta dish. If you want to serve it as a side dish, alongside some roast chicken and steamed vegetables would make a delicious meal!
Do I have to bake this mac n cheese?
No, it tastes really good straight from the pan, although you can’t beat that golden crust of melted cheese on the top!
I wouldn’t recommend making this ahead of time, as the pasta absorbs the sauce when left to sit, meaning it would be dry rather than the sauce laden macaroni cheese you want!
However, you can cook the pasta up to 2 days ahead and then store, covered, in the fridge. You can also make the sweetcorn and cheese sauce up to 2 days ahead and keep, covered, in the fridge. When ready to make the macaroni and cheese, heat the sauce over a gentle heat thinning with a splash of milk if it seems to thick, then stir into the macaroni pasta, top with grated cheese and cook as below.
Can I freeze this macaroni cheese?
No, I wouldn’t recommend you freeze this dish. It will thicken as it sits and you lose the soft creamy texture. If you freeze it you could get water crystals in it they can make the mac n cheese seperate when you bake it.
Leftover Mac n Cheese:
- If you have just a spoonful or two, mix with a spoonful of flour and beaten egg and make into muffins or fritters.
- Or heat with a little milk in a small saucepan and put on top of toast then put under the grill with a little more cheese sprinkled on top for the ultimate carb meal!
If you like this recipe, you may also enjoy:
Baked Macaroni Cheese
- You will need a lightly greased ovenproof dish with a 2-2.5 litre / 8-10 cup capacity.
- 200g (7 oz) macaroni pasta ($0.40 /£0.34p)
- 45g (3 tablespoons) butter ($0.59 /£0.32p)
- 45g (¼ c) plain flour ($0.06 /£0.03p)
- 750ml (3⅛ c ) milk ($1.09 /£0.48p)
- 240g (8½ oz) sweetcorn, tinned or frozen, defrosted ($0.53 /£0.33p)
- 150g (5oz) cheddar / tasty cheese, grated ($1.74 /£0.75p)
- 50g (1½ oz) cheddar / tasty cheese, grated, for the top ($0.58 /£0.25p)
- Preheat the oven to 180˚C fan / 200˚C / 360 ˚F convection / 392˚F.
- Bring a large pan of water to the boil then add the pasta. Cook according to the packet instructions, minus 1 minute.
Meanwhile Make the Cheese Sauce:
- In a medium saucepan melt the butter and then stir in the flour.
- Cook for 1 minute over a medium heat, then add a little of the milk.
- Stir vigorously and when the milk is incorporated, add a little more milk.
- When you have added half the milk, use a balloon whisk to whisk in the rest of the milk.
- Turn the heat down low and let the sauce cook gently for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time to prevent it from catching on the bottom of the saucepan. This is to take the raw taste out of the flour.
- Take off the heat and add 150g grated cheddar cheese. Season with black pepper.
- Using a stick blender, blend the sweetcorn to a smooth puree. This can take a few minutes to get it silky smooth.
- Fold the sweetcorn puree into the cheese sauce.
- Drain the pasta and pour the cheese and corn sauce over and mix well.
- Pour into an oven proof baking dish.
- Sprinkle over the remaining 50g grated cheese and place in the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
Use margarine instead of butter.
- If you don’t have macaroni pasta, use the same weight of whatever pasta shapes you have to hand.
- If the sauce is too thick then add 1-2 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water.