Gouda Mac and Cheese with Peas and Microgreens

Thanks to a mention by Spicy Bee while she visited Besaws, my memories have been jogged about the existence of meatloaf, and how I haven’t had it for a very long time. I’ve been craving it for a few weeks.

When friends came over to marathon Game of Thrones before the season 3 premiere next Sunday, I asked her to bring meatloaf, and I would make a side. I was torn between making green beans with potatoes versus mac and cheese, but when the cold wind was blowing on Saturday at the Portland Farmers Market and I saw these microgreens from Nightlight Farms that I wrote about a couple days ago, I thought they would be great as a topping, the choice was made. I admit that maybe halfway through the plate of cheeseburger meatloaf and this cheesy but crunchy gouda mac n cheese with peas and microgreens topping that I felt a need to switch out my jeans for soft stretchy yoga pants.

Ingredients (serves 8):

  • 1 box (1 pound) of farfalle (or whatever shape) pasta you would like
  • Salt (to taste)
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 12 ounce bag of frozen sweet peas
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 2 cups of milk, or you can use 1 1/2 cups and 1/2 cup cream, or all cream. You pick the richness level.
  • 1/2 tablespoon of ground nutmeg (this is my take because I like nutmeg, and I did not freshly ground it so used more. The actual recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon worth)
  • 3/4 pound of shredded smoked gouda cheese. For best results, shred the cheese the day of, and don’t use the pre-shredded that will have cornstarch and not taste as fresh. The key to kicking mac and cheese is to use good cheese you shred yourself
  • 3 tablespoons seasoned panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup of microgreens: I used a bit of pea sprouts and broccoli sprouts

Directions:

  1. Boil a pot of salted water and cook the pasta. You can set it aside in the casserole dish you are going to use with about 3 tablespoons of olive oil so the pasta do not stick to each other in clumps.
  2. Meanwhile, defrost the sweet peas and add with the hot pasta. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. Now, for the classic mother sauce, the béchamel sauce. This is a classic French white sauce made by stirring dairy into a mixture of equal parts flour and butter, and then adding the smoked cheese makes it thick and creamy cheesy goodness! In a saucepan on medium heat, melt the butter, and then slowly whisk in the flour, keep whisking to make it smooth for a few minutes until it thickens and browns slightly. Now, add the milk and bring to a boil, whisking constantly.
  4. Lower the heat and add the cream (if using), most of the smoked Gouda (reserve a handful or two to sprinkle as part of the topping), paprika and nutmeg and whisk just until the cheese is melted and fully incorporated. Season with salt and pepper, and then pour this sauce into the casserole dish with the pasta and peas. Mix it all together.
  5. Top with the handful of shredded cheese you reserved, and then seasoned panko breadcrumbs
  6. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees F for 15 – 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
  7. Finally, top the mac and cheese with the microgreens of pea shoots and broccoli shoots from Nightlight Farms.

Mac and cheese is so easy to sneak in vegetables, and I liked how the broccoli shoots added additional texture and crunch above and beyond the panko topping.

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Comments

  1. Adventures in Dressmaking says:

    I have recently re-discovered meatloaf, too! (Just started eating meat again)–have been making grassfed beef meatloaves, with almond flour so they are Paleo-friendly and we can eat them. Want to try one with some pork or nitrite-free bacon added in! My husband also loooves them and never had them as a kid so was quite hesitant at first. But I love the casserole method of cooking, so easy and great for leftovers! Casserole anything!

  2. So true! Casserole anything! 🙂

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