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Baked Macaroni and Cheese for a crowd

OK, here is one of my personal preferences: macaroni and cheese is a BAKED pasta dish with a touch of brown, crispy edge, not a slurpy, saucy something. If you want wet, this recipe won't do.

Sharp cheddar! Keep the depth of the macaroni in the casserole no more than 2 inches or it will not bake as well. You get an even tastier result if you substitute eggs for part of the flour; one egg for 2 tablespoons of flour.

One pound of pasta- "ten servings"- is 10 side dish servings, about 2 1/2 quarts or a 9"x13" pan. If it is a main course or you have real macaroni lovers, a pound serves about 6 eaters. For each ten servings, start with 1 lb. of durum, whole wheat, spinach, or soy macaroni and 1 quart of cheese sauce. Start the pasta water to boil first: it takes about 20 minutes to bring a gallon of water to a boil, and you need a gallon for each pound. Boil the pasta while the sauce is being prepared so they can be mixed as soon as the pasta is drained.

For a vegan casserole, you can make the sauce with vegetable broth, squash soup, nut milk or soy milk as the liquid and the meltier soy cheeses.

Simple Cheese Sauce

2 C instant milk powder
1/2 C flour - can use whole wheat pastry or brown rice flour
1 T dried green herbs
1/2 T paprika
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard (or add 1 tablespoon wet mustard to water)
3 1/2 C warm water

Stir all the dry ingredients together well. Then beat the powder into the water.

Cook the sauce over a medium heat until thick, stirring frequently to prevent lumping or scorching.

When it is completely cook cooked, remove from the heat and stir in:

1/2 lb. (about 2 C) cubed or grated sharp cheese- this is the minimum. You can increase this up to 1 1/2 pounds if you have plenty of cheese available.
I use up to one fourth shredded Parmesan for flavor, or Monterey Jack for creamy texture.

Nutritional yeast or raw eggs, as described below, are stirred in now.

Stir gently. The heat of the sauce will melt the cheese.

Assembling Simple Baked Macaroni

Stir the sauce and the hot drained macaroni together.

You can top the casserole with buttered bread or cracker crumbs, wheat germ, or grated cheese, or sliced or chopped nuts.

If you are not watching fats, dot a stick (1/2 cup) of butter or margarine over the top of the dish.

Bake in a 350 degree oven about 45 minutes if baked immediately, or at least 1 hour if chilled before baking, until the edges are slightly browned. Remove from the oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

For each extra pound of pasta you increase the recipe, add about 8 minutes to the baking time.

Simple Vegetable Variations

1 cup diced onion or bell pepper sauted and stirred into the sauce gives a real taste and color lift.

Chunky cooked vegetables may be substituted for part of the cooked pasta. Use cut cauliflower, broccoli, or any which are not too moist.

Simple Protein variations

Stir up to 1/2 cup Kal or Redstar large flake nutritional yeast into each quart of sauce. Beautiful golden color, too.

For each pound of pasta, layer in 1/2 to 1 pound of thinly sliced or ground cooked meat.

Layer in sliced 4 hard cooked eggs or beat 4 eggs into the cheese sauce.