This is a no-frills mac and cheese that comes together in no time to create a deliciously rich and creamy pasta that hits that comfort food check box ten times over.
To make it we’re going to need whole grain pasta, milk, smoked Gouda (or any preferred melting cheese such as fontina), butter, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and (optional) diced green bell peppers. You can also add in a touch of stone ground mustard if you happen to have some on hand!
We’ll begin by adding the milk and the pasta to a pot on a medium heat. Cooking the pasta in the milk helps to create a nice creamy base for our quick mac and cheese.
Once the milk begins to bubble, we’ll add the butter and reduce the heat to a simmer. As milk boils it creates a film of cream on the top as the fats, sugars, and liquid separates. This is why you will not want to cover the pot as the milk might boil over and why you’ll want to stir the pot every couple of minutes.
Once the pasta has boiled and is cooked through and the milk is reduced, add in the salt, pepper, and garlic powder (and stone ground mustard if using).
Add in your shredded smoked Gouda and fold it into the milk and cooked pasta.
As you fold and mix the cheese in, it will melt and meld together with the milk and pasta to create a smooth and creamy cheese sauce. 🧀
As a final (optional) touch, fold in the diced green bell peppers for a fresh bite and slightly sweet crunch. Another option is to add in some sweet peas.
The melted cheese sauce clings to the ridges of the pasta and fills the interior making each bite creamy and gooey. It’s honestly the perfect cheesy comfort food.
And for a perfect meal pairing, serve this dish with my insanely easy to make Parmesan-Herb Crusted Chicken (pictured above).
Ultra-easy Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese
- Add the milk and pasta to a pot and set on medium heat. Once the milk begins to bubble, add the butter, lower the heat to a simmer, and continue cooking uncovered stirring occasionally to ensure that the pasta doesn't stick and the milk doesn't burn.
- Test your penne after 12-15 minutes to determine if they're cooked through. Once cooked, add in the salt, pepper, and garlic powder (and ground mustard if using) and mix to combine.
- Add the shredded cheese and fold until the cheese is fully melted and creamy.
- If using, fold in the diced green bell peppers.
- Serve immediately.
- You can use any preferred melting cheese of your choice. Fontina and Havarti are good options.
- You can also add in sweet green peas in place of the peppers. Top with some crumbled bacon for a delicious variation.
- If your pasta dries up or isn't as creamy as you'd like, add in some warm milk and fold to combine until your desired level of creaminess is achieved.
- To reheat any leftovers, add a splash of milk and slowly warm it on the stove top stirring constantly until it's warmed through and once more creamy.