Masala Mac & Cheese
This Masala Mac and Cheese is my twist on a classic American comfort food. The creamy cheese sauce is infused with warm Indian spices and studded with sweet peas and fresh cilantro. It's a unique dish that's packed with flavor!
- 12 ounces cavatappi pasta or other medium pasta
- 2 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil like grapeseed or vegetable oil
- 1 cup minced onion
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 cups chopped plum tomatoes plus 2 tomatoes, sliced
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups milk, any type
- 1 ½ cups shredded Medium Cheddar cheese, divided use
- 1 ½ cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided use
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro plus extra for garnish
- ¾ cup frozen peas
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Set a large pasta pot filled with salted water to boil over high heat. Cook the pasta 2 minutes less than package directions indicate for al dente. Drain and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, 8-10 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté another 1-2 minutes until fragrant, then add the chopped tomatoes, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, turmeric, and salt. Cook until tomatoes break down and mixture starts to thicken. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a large saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat until melted. Add the flour and whisk into the melted butter. Cook for 2 minutes, then gradually whisk in the milk. Cook until the sauce starts to thicken, stirring often. Stir in 1 ¼ cups each of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses (reserve the remaining ½ cup of cheese for the topping).
Pour the tomato masala (spice) mixture from the skillet into the cheese sauce and add the fresh cilantro and peas. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Add the cooked pasta and stir to combine well.
Pour the mixture into a lightly greased 13 x 9” baking tray. Arrange the tomato slices on top of the pasta and sprinkle the remaining ½ cup of cheese over the top. Bake 30-35 minutes, until cheese is bubbly. Remove from oven and garnish with fresh chopped cilantro. Serve warm.
I like to use a microplane grater for the fresh ginger and garlic so that you don’t get any big pieces in the sauce.
This recipe has a mild spice level. Adjust the spice level by increasing or decreasing the amount of cayenne pepper.
This mac and cheese can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
The best way to freeze it is to assemble the dish up to the point of baking it. Then, wrap the baking dish with plastic wrap and aluminum foil and freeze. You can also freeze the cooked mac and cheese. You can cut the cooked mac and cheese into smaller portions and then wrap and freeze the individual portions.
Serving: 0g | Calories: 481kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 58mg | Sodium: 607mg | Potassium: 484mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1337IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 445mg | Iron: 2mg