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My father is a wonderful cook, but he never writes down a recipe, and rarely measures ingredients. I end up having to guess the recipe by watching him make it, then try it myself. After many experiments, it usually turns out. This is one of those. It makes a huge batch, but luckily, it freezes very well. Make it with the basil when you have some around, and without when you don't. That's what Daddy does.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Cook macaroni according to package directions, drain, and place in a very large mixing bowl.
- Tear or shred basil leaves and add to pasta.
- Cut the onion into quarters or small chunks, and add to blender with the milk.
- Puree until the onion is blended into the milk. (You should have between 4 and 5 cups of liquid.).
- Melt the butter with the flour in a large skillet or saucepan, and cook, stirring constantly until light brown.
- Add the onion and milk mixture a little at a time, whisking well between additions.
- Add cream cheese and shredded cheddar, a little at a time, allowing each addition to melt before adding more cheese. (You should have a very thick cheese sauce.)
- Add mustard and salt and white pepper to taste.
- Pour cheese sauce over pasta, mix well, and divide into baking dishes. (I find this will do two 8x8, or three 8" rounds.)
- Top with shredded cheddar and breadcrumbs. (If you're freezing some for later, just cover it in foil and freeze.)
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until pasta is set, and cheese is melted.
- This recipe can be baked from frozen at the same temperature, for 30 minutes with foil, and 15 uncovered.