There’s just something comforting about macaroni and cheese. The noodles, the cheesy sauce, and the crunchy baked topping. But what if I told you there’s an even better macaroni and cheese and it’s called Fontina Baked Macaroni and Cheese. Fontina baked macaroni and cheese is packed with roasted veggies and lots of melted cheese, then topped with crunchy Panko breadcrumbs. Roasting the broccoli, red peppers and yellow squash add a depth of flavor and texture to the Fontina cheese sauce. The addition of the veggies is what turns this from a side dish to a main dish.
Macaroni and cheese usually gets cast in the role of the side dish. Go to any summer pool party, you’ll find a casserole dish of macaroni and cheese to accompany the meat-centered main courses. The difference with this Fontina Baked Macaroni and Cheese is that it can stand on it’s own as the main dish. This is a macaroni and cheese that is the star of the dinner table.
This has roasted broccoli, roasted red peppers, and roasted yellow squash which makes this much more than a simple noodle and cheese sauce. The roasted veggies give this a heartiness and substance that will leave you feeling full and satisfied. Using broccoli, red peppers and yellow squash also give this such an appealing color scheme and breaks up what could be a monochromatic dish.
What is Fontina Cheese?
Fontina cheese is a semi-hard Italian cheese. It’s softer than something like Cheddar cheese, but harder than a cheese like Brie. The flavors are rich, somewhat buttery, and mild. It makes a good cheese for a macaroni and cheese since it’s soft flavor doesn’t overwhelm the dish or become too powerful. It also melts easily so would be great in a fondue.
We all know the saying that “you eat with your eyes” and as a food blogger that’s something I always need to be considering in a recipe and in the food styling. Green, red, and yellow all pop in the cheese sauce and create a beautiful colorful bowl. At home, this is something you can keep in mind when your serve dinner. If a dish looks too bland, throw some fresh parsley on top for a pop of green. Trust me, it instantly takes something that looks unappetizing into a dish you can’t wait to dig into!
This macaroni and cheese is toddler-approved. Lilly absolutely loved this, even with all those veggies. Those are the best meals. Meals that are both adult and toddler friendly. I think that for me is the biggest challenge at dinner time. Lilly goes to bed before my husband and I eat dinner, so I usually don’t start cooking until she’s already in bed. A meal like this is perfect since it makes a huge casserole dish. I can have dinner for my husband and I, and the leftovers make great toddler lunches and dinners. Make this for your family and your kids won’t care there are veggies in there!Print
Fontina Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Fontina Baked Macaroni and Cheese is a rich and hearty macaroni and cheese using a Fontina cheese sauce. Packed with roasted broccoli, red peppers, and yellow squash this macaroni and cheese is loved by adults and kids!
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 60 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
3 cups uncooked elbow noodle pasta
2 large heads of broccoli, diced into florets
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
2 yellow squash, chopped into quarters
3/4 cup Panko breadbrumbs
2 cloves garlic, grated
2 + 3 tablespoons butter (you use them at different times)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups half & half
2 5oz blocks of Fontina cheese, grated (you’ll use 4 cups of the grated cheese in the sauce and what remains gets sprinkled overtop before baking)
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
Paprika for garnishing
1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Pour all of the diced veggies onto a large baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and bake for 25 minutes. Once veggies have cooked, remove them from the oven then reduce oven heat to 350.
2. While the veggies roast, bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the 3 cups of pasta.
3. While the pasta cooks, prepare the cheese sauce. First, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a medium pot. Once melted, pour over the 3/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs. Set aside. Next, in the same pot melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and add in the grated garlic, cook for about 1 minute then add the 2 tablespoons of flour and whisk to combine. Slowly pour in the 2 cups of half & half and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes until slightly bubbly. Season with the salt.
4. Next, reduce heat to low and pour in 4 cups of the grated Fontina cheese. It helps to pour one cup at a time whisk until it has melted into the sauce then add the next cup until all 4 cups are now in the cheese sauce. Add the 1 teaspoon of cornstarch and increase heat to medium-high until the sauce has thickened, then remove from heat.
5. To assemble, start with the cooked noodles in your large pasta pot. Add in the cooked veggies and stir so they are dispersed in the noodles. Then, pour all of the cheese sauce into the pot. Stir so all the Fontina cheese sauce has covered all of the noodles and all of the veggies. Pour into a 9×13 casserole dish, top with remaining grated cheese, then top with the Panko breadcrumbs and lastly sprinkle paprika overtop for added color. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.