Easiest Mac & Cheese Ever

My don’t-cook-your-noodles lasagne is a staple of our menu, and was the inspiration for this macaroni and cheese casserole. On Wednesday evenings, Dr. T goes off to play with his Scrabble club, and the boys and I grab a bowl of this casserole and watch TV – decadent, fun, relaxing – it’s a great way to deal with the middle of the week.
I make my couch potato time even nicer with a glass of Chardonnay at almost room temperature. Little Penguin does a 3-litre box, so I don’t have to open a whole bottle just for myself.
1 box whole wheat macaroni
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
1 onion, quartered
1 tbsp Dijon mustard**
2 tbsp cream cheese (low-fat OK)
1 cup buttermilk
salt & pepper
You’ll need a nice deep casserole dish with a cover. I use my black clay cooking pot (which I LOVE for this recipe, and a few others).
*Experiment! Remember the really annoying cheese guy? “You change the cheese, you change the taste”? Aim for about a cup of cheese, or if you want to, more. Use this as an opportunity to get rid of any odd bits of cheese. I’ve used blue, Brie, feta… I usually make sure that about half the cheese is old cheddar (low-fat, even) and a quarter fresh Parmesan, but that’s a reflection of my personal tastes.
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. If you’re like me, remind yourself to remove/adjust oven racks to accommodate the covered casserole.
2. Put the uncooked macaroni into the casserole dish.
3. Toss the onion, tomatoes, and cheese(s) into a food processor and whirr it all up, adding the buttermilk as needed to keep things moving. Add the mustard, cream cheese, and, if using, nutmeg and/or cloves, and give it one last whirl.
4. Pour the tomato mixture into the casserole, add the salt and pepper, and mix thoroughly.
5. Cover and bake at 350 for one hour.
6. Remove from oven, give it a good stir, and let it sit for another 5 minutes or so – enjoy!
**My friend Iris was aghast at this ingredient, because she doesn’t like mustard. I assured her (and now you) that there’s no hint of mustard in the finished product. Somehow the Dijon brings out the cheese taste. You can also add a dash of nutmeg and/or cloves to enhance the cheesiness even more.

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