Once in a while an offer comes along that is too good to refuse. I have lots of foodie friends who keep me connected when there are contests and giveaways to enter, especially when there is free food involved. To that end, Marx Foods (http://marxfoods.com/) offered food bloggers 5 wonderful sample packs of their dried mushrooms if they agreed to participate in their Blogger Mushroom Recipe Challenge (http://marxfood.com/mushroom-recipe-challenge/).
You know me, never one to back down from a challenge so this is what I came up with, bearing in mind four things:
1. Lil and I have a crazy life lately–like that is something new, right?–and having something I can freeze part of to eat at a later date works for us
2. The weather is getting cooler at night and some comfort food was on my agenda to make anyway
3. I had lots of odds and ends of cheese in the fridge that needed to be used
4. I have sneaky ways of making comfort foods much healthier than the traditional version but still very very delicious! I love a good mac and cheese but adding the reconstituted dried mushrooms and a bit of the mushroom “broth” gave this classic a whole new dimension of deliciousness! And not one person can tell that I slipped in the high fiber pasta for the traditional
Multi Marx Mushroom Mac & Cheese
1/2 cup dried Marx Porcini Mushrooms
1/2 cup dried Marx Black Trumpet Mushrooms
2 cups low fat milk
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 pounds light or reduced fat cheese, cut in to small cubes or shredded–I had about four ounces Muenster, mozzarella, a bunch of sharp cheddar and American in the fridge so that’s what I used, all light or reduced fat versions except the Muenster
2 -one pound boxes pasta–I used one box of Pasta Plus (the pasta in the yellow box) and then I found a new type of pasta–it is in a green box and it is multi colored–orange/tan/green veggie pasta with a full serving of veggies in every serving and full of vitamins and fiber but you can use regular pasta too!
1- 6 oz package fresh sliced crimini mushrooms
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
Place dried Marx mushrooms in separate small bowls or cups. Cover mushrooms with boiling water and set aside to reconstitute while you are getting everything else organized–they take about 20 minutes to soften and plump back up.
In a large pan, whisk together milk and flour. Bring to a low boil over medium heat, whisking occasionally–mixture will thicken slightly.
In a large pot cook pasta in well salted boiling water–drain when cooked to al dente and set aside–be sure to read package directions as the whole grain pasta cooks differently than traditional. When drained, pour pasta in to a large bowl and set aside.
Drain dried mushrooms through a fine sieve, reserving liquid. Pat dry, chop and set aside-these are the black trumpet mushrooms.
When milk and flour mixture is at a low boil, reduce heat to medium low and slowly stir in cheese, a little at a time until melted. Add more cheese and continue until sauce is thick and velvety. Whisk a few tablespoons of the mushroom liquid in to the cheese sauce to spread that rich mushroom flavor all throughout the dish. I froze the rest of the mushroom “broth” and can’t wait to use it the next time I make soup.
In the meantime, in another pan melt butter in a large saute pan and brown mushrooms over medium low heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
When all of the cheese is incorporated in to the sauce, pour over cooked pasta and mix well. Add all mushrooms and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
I divided this batch up into three casserole dishes, put crumbs on two, wrapped them well and froze them. At this point you can add seasoned and buttered cracker or bread crumbs over the top if you wish. We ate the rest very happily two dinners in a row without the crumbs–delicious!
And there you have it–rich, delicious, earthy, comforting, nutritious, easy, cheesy and YUMMY!