Seven Cheeses Mac ‘n Cheese is over the top as far as Mac ‘n Cheese goes. This recipe uses every Italian cheese I could find at the store and bakes into a creamy hot mess that will fill you up after 3 bites. Oh my! What a delicious and easy casserole to make for Columbus Day! This will feed a family of 10 for one dinner, or a small child for 3 weeks.
Mac ‘n Cheese is a very adaptable recipe, like many great homemade pasta recipes. Substitute whatever pasta you have on hand. Don’t have gorgonzola, leave it out. In fact, Velveeta cheese would work nicely in this dish. Don’t skip the buttered, toasted breadcrumbs. It gives the gooey Mac ‘n Cheese a special crunch. I also like the touch of tomato in the sauce for color and sweetness. This is Italian-American homemade cooking at its best.
Today is Columbus Day, honoring Italian heritage in the United States. It also holds a special memory for me. I was runner-up in the Miss Columbus Day Parade in 1974 and got to ride on the parade float with Mayor Richard J. Daley (the first Mayor Daley). Yes, really. That is my claim to fame. OK, so my Dad was Assistant Parade Marshall, but I’m sure he didn’t influence anything.
So back to the Seven Cheeses Mac ‘n Cheese. A special shout out to my dear friend Susan Wolfgarth who inspired this recipe. She makes a wonderfully creamy version loaded with gorgonzola.
Seven Cheeses Mac 'n Cheese
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 14.8 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 tablespoon black or white pepper season to taste
- 1 /2 teaspoon red pepper flakes season to taste
- 1 pound Penne pasta cooked al dente (about 5-6 minutes)
- 1/2 cup romano freshly grated
- 1/2 cup shredded fontina
- 1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola or adjust for taste
- ½ cup ricotta
- ½ cup mascarpone cheese
- 1 cup mozzarella chunked cubes
- ½ cup parmesan cheese freshly grated
- 6 basil leaves chopped
- 5 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, mix cream, tomatoes and peppers. Add cooked pasta and toss to coat.
Add romano, fontina, gorgonzola, ricotta, mascarpone, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese to pasta and gently mix until well incorporated. Leave the big chunks and clumps of cheese intact. They will melt during cooking. If too dry, add more cream. The pasta will absorb it during cooking. Add basil and gently fold to mix.
Transfer pasta/cheese mixture to a lasagna pan (9 x 13 X 4 casserole pan). Make sure it is a deep pan so the pasta stays creamy.
Melt the butter in a small pan on the stovetop. Add the breadcrumbs and lightly toast until the butter is absorbed.
Spread toasted breadcrumbs over top of casserole.
Cover the pan with tin foil and bake for 30 minutes. Check to be sure the center is hot all the way through or continue baking another 10 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking another 5 -10 minutes or until it is bubbly and browned on top.