It is a comfort food classic; consistently on the list of children’s favorite food choices and so beloved that it has mentioned in nursery rhymes, contemporary pop songs, and even had a crayon color named after it. It’s macaroni and cheese, the pasta dish that is, believe it or not, consumed the most by Canadians. So, what better way to honor National Macaroni Day on July 14th than by preparing this iconic dish.
The image that typically comes to mind is the small curved tube of pasta known as elbow macaroni, but the word itself which comes from the Italian maccheroni refers to pasta traditionally shaped into straight, tubular, square-ended short pasta. Maccheroni can be prepared any number of ways, with a hearty meat ragu, as an omelet better known as a frittata (typical in Naples) or layered into a casserole with sauce and cheese known as pasta al forno (baked pasta).
While it has been a traditional artisan pasta in Italy, the British are credited with the creation of mac and cheese as we know it, a baked casserole dish of pasta combined with béchamel sauce into which cheddar cheese has been mixed, then baked until bubbly and golden. The recipe has evolved since its 17th century origins often turning into a five-start dish with the inclusion of gourmet ingredients such as lobster and truffles, or by using other shapes such as our cavatappi (corkscrew pasta) or creste di galli (rooster pasta).
Stop by the store to pick up some cresti di galli and a jar of our homemade béchamel, then just add your favorite cheese(s); bake and voila you’ve got comfort food at its finest. Happy Macaroni Day!