My Nana made the best macaroni and cheese. Nana's mac 'n cheese has been a family favorite for decades. Though Nana's been gone a few years now, she left the recipe for this delicious classic comfort food as part of her culinary legacy - sort of.
When anyone in the family would ask Nana for her macaroni and cheese recipe she would gladly share it. What we eventually realized is that the recipe was slightly different each time she shared it.
The discrepancy could've been attributed to forgetfulness as my grandmother aged, though I find this is not likely due to her mental sharpness when it came to anything else that was important to her - like her wardrobe or her home, both of which were always impeccable, even into her nineties! Perhaps it was due to the fact that she would just wing it each time she prepared everyone's favorite dish. Possible. Or, and I believe I'm onto something here, she didn't really want anyone making her famous macaroni as well as she made it!
Nana knew for years to come, each time someone in the family tried to duplicate her signature dish, we would all say sure, it was good but not quite as good as Nana's! It seems to be missing something...
Nana and Colonel Sanders had something in common; we'll never know their secret ingredient. I don't know about the ol' Colonel but I think Nana's secret to the best mac 'n cheese had to do with love...
~Nana's Mac N Cheese~
Penne Pasta, one pound
Canned Chopped Tomatoes with Basil, Oregano and Garlic, two 15 oz. cans
Colby Cheese, 1 lb. cut into 1/2" cubes
Garlic, 3 cloves minced
Olive oil, 3 T.
Shredded Parmesan Cheese, 1/2 C.
Panko Bread Crumbs, 1/2 C. (my own twist to Nana's recipe)
Salt and Pepper, to taste
~What You'll Do~
1. Cook pasta to al dente according to package directions; toss with 1 T. olive oil.
2. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. While waiting for pasta, in a large pan, saute' garlic in 2 T. olive oil for apx. 1 minute over medium heat. Add slightly drained tomatoes to garlic and oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Turn mixture down to a simmer, allow it to simmer until pasta is ready.
3. Stir tomato mixture and cubed colby cheese into prepared pasta.
4. Pour entire mixture into a 9x13 baking dish.
5. Sprinkle the top of the casserole with parmesan cheese and panko bread crumbs.
6. Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes, or until bubbling hot.
7. Turn oven up to 425 degrees. Remove foil from dish, return to bake for apx. 10 minutes, or until crispy and golden brown on top.
This hearty dish easily serves 6 to 8 as a side dish. Add browned italian sausage before baking to create a delicious main dish. Serve with a green salad and sourdough bread. YUMMMM!
Nana would be proud!