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Author Notes: Miso paste has all the excellent qualities of cheese; it's savory, rich, and packed with umami flavor. Adding it to a classic mac and cheese amplifies and intensifies the cheese flavor, and gives the entire dish an interesting "oomph"! —Posie Harwood
Serves 6 (or 4 hungry people)
- 8 ounces dried pasta (I like elbows or cavatappi)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups milk, warmed slightly
- 2 1/4 cups shredded cheese (I like a mix of cheddar, Pecorino, and Gruyère), divided
- 1/4 cup sweet white miso paste, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- Preheat oven to 375° F.
- Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to boil. Add your pasta and cook until a minute or two shy of al dente (do not cook it all the way to al dente!). Drain (don't rinse) and set aside.
- In a large pan, heat the butter until it melts. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly to break up any clumps, for a minute or two.
- Whisk in the warm milk and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
- Remove from the heat and stir in 2 cups of the cheese, salt, pepper, and miso paste. (N.B.: Start with just two tablespoons of the miso paste, and taste. Add more as you like but it's important to taste and decide what you like!)
- Add the cooked pasta to the cheese sauce and stir to coat.
- Pour the pasta into a greased baking dish (big enough to hold your pasta—a 9- by 13-inch dish works, or a 2-quart or 3-quart dish) and sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese and the panko.
- Bake the pasta for about 25 minutes. The pasta should be bubbling and the breadcrumbs should be browned.
- Remove from the oven, let cool slightly, and serve.
- This recipe is a Community Pick!