Back in March, I attended the Chicago Good Food Fest where I met some representatives from the Midwest-local Ludwig Farmstead Creamery out of Illinois. After chatting for a bit and tasting their products, I noticed they were offering a cooking contest that had to include one of their cheeses. So…yeah… I pretty much jumped all over that. Cheese? Cooking Contest? You bet. Since I always prefer to use local and in-season ingredients, I came up with this Springtime Asparagus Mac & Cheese, which uses the creamery’s Jake’s Wheel Dutch Garden Herb Cheese.
After a long winter of heavy foods, it was time to lighten up our meals. Adding asparagus and tomatoes along with the garden herbs gave this, otherwise rich, dish a long awaited freshened flavor. Of course, if asparagus isn’t your thing, add whatever you like, including cooked ham if the carnivore in you starts to roar.
I’m so happy to announce that I won! Even more than winning a cheese package from the creamery (which is saying a LOT since cheese is my lover), I’m excited to share new and delicious recipes with all of you lovely people. Enjoy!
- 3 c. Uncooked Macaroni
- ½ c. Butter
- 1 sm. Onion, chopped
- ½ lb. Asparagus, cleaned & trimmed (leave tips whole and slice stems)
- 1 t. Sea Salt
- ½ t. Ground Black Pepper
- ½ c. Unbleached Flour
- 3½ c. Milk
- 8 oz. Jake's Wheel Dutch Garden Herb Cheese, cubed
- (If you can't get your hands on this specialty cheese, you can use any herbed Monterrey Jack style cheese, or cheese with a variety of garden herbs)
- Optional toppings: Fresh diced tomato, grated Parmesan cheese
- Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- In large saucepan, cook butter, onion, asparagus, salt & pepper over medium heat until onion is tender. Stir in flour and simmer until mixture is bubbly.
- Stir in milk and heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Add cheese and stir until melted. (Tip: don't over-cook or use too high of heat, otherwise the sauce will start to "break" - don't worry, it's not the end of the world if it does)
- Add drained macaroni to cheese sauce and stir. Put in large baking pan, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 45 minutes (or until it's bubbly and top is lightly browned)
- Serve topped with fresh tomato and Parmesan.