Macaroni & Cheese with Cannellini Beans

Macaroni & cheese is always a hit with kids. This dish combines the rich cheese sauce that kids love with creamy cannellini beans― which add the complete protein and fiber that parents love. Baking individual servings with a bread crumb crust until golden brown makes for a more sophisticated presentation suitable for a casual bar menu.

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Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil                                                                                  
  • 1/4 cup bacon or pancetta, diced
  • 1/2 cup onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 Tbsp. shallot, peeled and minced
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups milk, 2% reduced fat
  • White pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. thyme leaves
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, white, shredded
  • 1/2 cup Gruyere cheese, grated
  • 1 cup Fontina
  • 1/2 lb. whole wheat elbow pasta, cooked al dente
  • 3 cups cannellini beans, canned or cooked, drained, rinsed, chilled
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs, toasted
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Number of Servings : 12

Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups

Macaroni & cheese is always a hit with kids. This dish combines the rich cheese sauce that kids love with creamy cannellini beans― which add the complete protein and fiber that parents love. Baking individual servings with a bread crumb crust until golden brown makes for a more sophisticated presentation suitable for a casual bar menu.

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. For the base: Add the olive oil to a medium pot over medium heat and add the pancetta to the pot. Cook the pancetta until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the onions, shallot, and garlic and bay leaf to the pan and cook until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the butter and flour to the pot and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes.
  3. Add the milk to the pot and whisk until smooth. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer. Season with the white pepper, nutmeg, and thyme and cook for 3 minutes. Add the grated cheeses to the pot and stir to combine well. Add the pasta to the pot and remove from the heat.
  4. Add the chilled beans and fold them in gently.
  5. Transfer the contents of the pot to a 3-quart baking dish or individual ramekins. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs with the cayenne and salt and sprinkle over the top of the macaroni. Bake, uncovered, until golden brown and bubbling, about 30 minutes.
  6. Cool 15 minutes before serving.

Recipes developed by The Culinary Institute of America as an industry service to the Northarvest Bean Growers Association.