The following recipe and photography was provided by recipe developer and food photographer, Ashley Durand of Plate & Pen.
Take a traditional cheese board to the next level by swapping classic accoutrements for noodles and an assortment of toppings to create a DIY Mac and Cheese Board.
At the holidays, especially Thanksgiving, mac and cheese is a staple side dish. The great thing about these cheesy noodles is that they’re extremely easy to customize; however when served casserole-style, as it usually is, there’s little room for those around the table to get creative.
This Mac and Cheese Board solves this problem by allowing hungry guests to build their own bowl from a robust assortment of gourmet toppings!
This spread may look intimidating, but it’s actually very simple to assemble. In fact, the way I’ve arranged the board is more of a suggestion, so feel free to get creative with the toppings you choose to include.
While the toppings surely are delicious, the real star of this spread is Heinen’s Mac and Cheese Cheese Blend, available in the Specialty Cheese Department. Instructions for preparation are included on the package, but I enhanced it with a few additional ingredients, which can be found below.
I also love Heinen’s artisan organic Italian-imported pastas. The orecchiette is the ideal shape to retain a lot of the cheese sauce and create the perfect bite. One bag is also the perfect amount for 4-6 people, but if you’re making this for a large party, simply scale up by using an additional bag of noodles and cheese blend. The cheese blend calls for half the amount of noodles used in this recipe, but I found it to be the perfect ratio cheese to pasta.
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For the Mac and Cheese
- 1 package of Heinen’s mac and cheese blend
- 1 cup Heinen’s sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 16 oz. package Heinen’s artisan organic orecchiette pasta, cooked just under al dente
- 3/4 cup Heinen's half & half
- 3/4 cup Heinen's whole milk
- 2 Tbsp. flour
- 2 Tbsp. Heinen's butter
- 1/2 tsp. Heinen's allspice
- 1/2 tsp. Heinen's nutmeg
- 1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- A pinch of Heinen's crushed red pepper flakes, for topping
- Heinen's CARE Certified Hickory smoked bacon, cooked
- Heinen’s olive and pepperoni mix
- Dried or fresh figs
- Artisan bread
- Honey cashews
- Baby heirloom tomatoes
- Heinen's Pesto
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until just under al dente. Drain and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to to 375°F. Grease a 9×9 casserole dish.
- Bring ¾ cup of whole milk and ¾ of of half & half to a simmer. Gradually whisk 3 cups of Heinen’s mac and cheese blend into the simmering milk, along with the additional cup of sharp cheddar cheese. Reduce the heat to a simmer and stir for 4-5 minutes until the cheese is melted.
- Add the flour and butter and whisk for about 2 minutes.
- Add the seasonings and spices and stir to incorporate.
- Add the cooked noodles to the baking dish and pour the cheese sauce overtop. Mix and bake according to the instructions on the mac and cheese blend packaging.
- For added flavor, top with crushed red pepper flakes and pepper, if desired.
- While the macaroni bakes, assemble the board in any arrangement you like using the suggested toppings above. Leave room in the center of the board for a big bowl of mac and cheese.
- Remove the mac and cheese from the oven and transfer it to a large serving bowl with a serving spoon.
- Place the bowl in the center of the arranged board and dig in!