This is my favorite take on mac-n-cheese: ruffled edge, cone-shaped campanelle pasta and savory sautéed mushrooms, baked together with a creamy but not-too-heavy cheese sauce and served bubbling hot. Serve it as a main course and no one will miss the meat!
BAKED PASTA WITH MUSHROOMS
Cook the pasta according to package directions for al dente (using 1 tablespoon kosher salt in the pasta water). Drain and set aside.
Heat oven to 375ºF. In large nonstick skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, sauté shallots or onion in butter until softened. (2-3 minutes)
Add sliced mushrooms; stir to coat and then let cook without stirring for several minutes to brown. Stir in thyme and garlic and cook 1-2 minutes more.
Add sherry or wine and stir to deglaze the pan, loosening up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
Stir in cream cheese, chicken broth, bouillon cube or salt and cream. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and add 1 cup parmesan cheese. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.
Add cooked pasta to sauce and pour into an ungreased casserole dish or lasagna pan. Sprinkle remaining parmesan cheese over top. Bake 20-30 minutes, or until top is lightly browned and sauce is bubbling.
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