Herb–Mushroom Mac and Cheese Recipe

mac n cheese recipe topped with herbs

Photo Credit: Anita Jaisinghani

My introduction to macaroni and cheese was in the 1980s, when I arrived in America. It was the boxed variety, which at the time tasted delicious. I played around with many variations of this American classic, from learning how to make a good béchamel to figuring out which spices paired well with cheese. And once my taste buds became more sophisticated, I began to enjoy sharp cheddar, raclette, and Gruyère, all of which pair beautifully with cumin, kalonji, and black pepper. Local farmers often bring us an amazing array of fragrant herbs, including bergamot, sage, holy basil, and lemon balm. The addition of chickpea flour to this dish may be unusual but it does lend tremendous depth of flavor.

Makes 6–8 servings | 90 minutes

I played around with many variations of this American classic, from learning how to make a good béchamel to figuring out which spices paired well with cheese.

Herb-Mushroom Mac and Cheese

Ingredients

  • 6 cups cooked elbow macaroni or shell pasta
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • 4 cups grated cheese, such as Gruyère, raclette, or sharp cheddar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups cooked mushrooms, such as oyster, chanterelle, or portobello
  • 2 Tablespoons chickpea flour
  • 4 cups mixed herbs, such as oregano, basil, chives, rosemary, or sage, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 2 serrano peppers, minced (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease a large baking dish. In a large bowl, combine the cooked pasta, heavy cream, 3 cups grated cheese, salt, pepper, mushrooms, chickpea flour, herbs, and peppers, if using. Pour mixture evenly into the prepared baking dish; top with the remaining 1 cup grated cheese. Bake for 40–45 minutes until the top appears bubbly and golden. Let the dish rest for 10–15 minutes before cutting. Garnish with more herbs and serve.

Notes & Variations

  • To cook mushrooms, toss 8 cups of sliced assorted mushrooms with 3-4 Tablespoons oil or melted butter and 2 teaspoons salt, and sauté or bake until done. All the liquid from the mushrooms should be gone.
  • To add complexity to the dish, feel free to add 2 teaspoons of ground cumin or kalonji or a teaspoon of each to the mixture.
  • This dish can be prepped up to a day in advance and just popped into the oven when ready to eat.
  • You can replace the chickpea flour with all-purpose flour.
  • If using maitake or trumpet mushrooms, slice or chop thinly and use them raw; they will cook during baking. 
  • If using dried mushrooms, such as morels or chanterelles, reconstitute in warm water, drain, and use without cooking, as they will puff up and cook during baking.


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