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Gina's asparagus & bacon mac-n-cheese

Chef Gina Ferwerda, author of Meals from the Mitten, shares a recipe for a cheesy comfort food combo.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Asparagus & Bacon Mac-N-Cheese

Serves 6-8

  • 1 pound cavatappi pasta
  • 6-8 slices bacon, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 pound asparagus, cut into bite size piece
  • Salt

Cheese Sauce

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon House Seasoning (salt, pepper, granulated garlic, onion & smoked paprika)
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2 cups freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided use
  • 1 cup freshly shredded white sharp cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Topping

  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup melted butter

Garnish (Optional)

  • Chopped scallions
  • Chopped tomatoes

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

PREPARE PASTA

Cook pasta according to package directions, then drain and set aside.

PREPARE BACON & ASPARAGUS

In a large skillet, add bacon and cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes. Add asparagus and continue to cook for another 3 minutes, then add a pinch of salt. Remove bacon and asparagus with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain.

MAKE CHEESE SAUCE

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, whisk together milk, heavy cream, House Seasoning and nutmeg. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and keep warm.

In a large saucepan, add butter and onion, and cook over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Stir in flour and continue to cook for 2 more minutes. Slowly add cream mixture, whisking continually. Once the mixture thickens, stir in cheeses and remove from heat. Stir in asparagus and bacon. Add to pasta and stir to combine.

MAKE TOPPING

In a small bowl, mix together breadcrumbs and melted butter.

ASSEMBLE

Pour cheesy pasta into a baking dish. Sprinkle topping evenly over pasta and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Serve warm. 

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