Spice up your mac & cheese

The first way improve this classic, indulgent comfort food is simple as trying a new shape of pasta and different kind of cheese. Each of these recipes recommends a noodle that will carry sauce well, but feel free to use whatever pasta you have on hand, and enjoy these new twists!

Luxury Lobster Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 8

You can easily turn this into a vegetarian recipe for delicious mac and cheese by just leaving the lobster out of it. But if you still want the seafood and don't want to splurge on lobster, consider using an 8 oz. container of lump crab meat instead.

12 oz. cavatappi macaroni (find this curly, longer pasta next to the elbow macaroni)
1lb. lobster or three defrosted lobster tails
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. olive oil
½ cup flour
¾ cup butter
2 garlic cloves
2 shallots
5 cups milk
8 oz. Brie, rind removed and the cheese cut into small cubes
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop in lobster and boil for 15 minutes, covered. Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before cracking and removing meat. Loosely chop meat into bite-sized pieces.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, then bring a large pot of water to a boil with a dash of salt and olive oil. Boil pasta for 8 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and transfer to bowl with lobster. 

3. Using a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Whisk in flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in milk, cooking for 3 minutes or until milk begins to boil. Remove from heat and stir in cheese until smooth. 

4. Pour pasta and seafood meat into a baking dish. Pour cheese mixture on top of pasta. Salt and pepper lightly. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top. Bake for 20 minutes or until breadcrumbs are golden brown. 

Per serving: 439 calories, 29 g protein, 54 carbohydrates, 11 g of fat, 91 mg of cholesterol, 749 mg sodium.

Zymarika and Tyrí (Pasta and Cheese in Greek)
Serves 5

8 oz. small pasta shells
2 cups milk
¼ cup flour
12 oz. grated Gruyere cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
4 cups fresh spinach
¼ cup chopped dill (or 1 tsp. dill weed)
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 cup bread crumbs
4 tbsp. butter, room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

2. In a medium pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add a tsp. of salt and pasta. Cook for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. 

3. In a large saucepan, heat flour over medium heat. Slowly whisk in milk and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low, and stir in grated Gruyere cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl. Wipe pan with a paper towel. 

4. Using a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add olive oil. Add onion and saute, stirring occasionally for 2 minutes. Add spinach and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes. Add the sauce, dill and pasta to the pan. Stir for 1 minute to coat pasta. Transfer to a baking dish. 

5. Cover the top of the pasta with feta and breadcrumbs and bake for 30 minutes. 

Per serving: 796 calories, 38 g protein, 21 g fat, 62 g carbohydrates, 148 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 847 mg sodium.

Apple Pie Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 5

8 oz. wheel-shaped macaroni
2 Gala apples, peeled, cored and cut into wedges
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. all purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
2 cup grated cheddar cheese

1. Butter a glass casserole dish. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

2. In a 6 quart pot, boil water with 1 tsp. salt. Add macaroni and boil for 7 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. 

3. In a large bowl, add apples, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar. 

4. In a medium saucepan on low heat, add butter. Slowly add the flour and stir until mixed. Whisk in the milk, and while stirring, cook 2 minutes or until it begins to boil. Remove from heat. Add the cheese and stir until smooth. 

5. Add pasta to the apple mixture and stir gently. Pour cheese on top, and gently stir until macaroni and apples are coated. Transfer to the casserole dish, then bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving, and enjoy!

Per serving: 479 calories, 19 g protein, 21 g fat, 54 carbohydrates, 78 mg cholesterol, 799 mg sodium.

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