Serves four and doubles easily

A creamy, rich mac and cheese with no sauce needing precooking. Do use organic ingredients if you can. Assemble the casserole ahead of time and bake off when it's convenient. Just bring it close to room temperature before putting it into the oven.

  • 1/4 pound (1 cup) raw elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup milk, or half and half
  • 1 small clove garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup (5-6 ounces) shredded good sharp cheddar, or domestic Asiago
  • 4 ounces cream cheese (half an 8-ounce package), crumbled
  • 1/8 teaspoon each hot red pepper flakes, salt, and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 saltines, crumbled

1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter a deep 1-1/2 quart baking dish, and add cooked macaroni.

2. In a blender or food processor combine egg, milk, and garlic, and process 3 seconds. Add onion, cheeses, peppers, salt, and paprika, and blend 10 seconds. Turn into the baking dish, folding into macaroni.

3. Melt butter in a small saucepan. Coat crackers with butter and spread over top of casserole. Bake about 30 to 35 minutes, or until thick yet creamy. Remove from oven, let stand about 5 minutes and serve.