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) Brien
6 (or 4 hungry people)
dried pasta (I like elbows or cavatappi)
milk, warmed slightly
2 1/4 cups
shredded cheese (I like a mix of cheddar, Pecorino, and Gruyère), divided
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.