I don’t actually use white cheddar cheese for this recipe, and you can use any shape pasta you want. My son just really REALLY loves boxed white cheddar shells, but one day he asked for a homemade version. It is pretty simple – you just make a white sauce, melt cheese into it, and stir in hot cooked pasta. Easy peasy! (bonus – the sauce ends up looking white because my cheddar is kind of pale, so it looks just like the white cheddar pasta in the box! ? )
Here’s what you need:
- 1 pkg Shell Pasta
- ½ stick butter
- 3 T flour
- 2 cups milk/cream combo of your preference (I used 1 ¾ cup non-fat milk and ¼ cup cream because that’s what I had)
- 2 cups cheddar cheese, or to taste (I used Tillamook medium cheddar)
- Salt to taste (if any)
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste (I used maybe ¼ tsp)
- Cook pasta according to pgk directions (I do add a little salt & oil). Cook just until al dente. Drain, but don’t rinse. Leave sitting aside in colander while you cook the sauce in the still-warm pot
- Over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour, stir with whisk for 1-2 minutes to cook the raw flavor out of the flour, but take care not to over-brown the butter.
- Add the milk/cream (whatever you have on hand or want to use is fine). Raise heat to med-high, and cook until it starts to thicken. Whisk constantly so the milk doesn’t burn on the bottom. It doesn’t ever boil – you just stir for 5 or so minutes, thinking nothing is going to happen, then you suddenly start to feel a little resistance when you’re stirring, and then it starts to thicken.
- Add the cheese, a little at a time, stirring constantly to melt the cheese. Adding it gradually helps prevent clumps. Taste the sauce as you go – it might not need as much cheese as you might think. You may or may not need any salt, just be sure to taste it. It is a very forgiving sauce if you just add a little flavor at a time.
- Stir cooked pasta into the sauce, and serve! Yum!
Note: You can easily make this gluten free by using your favorite gluten-free pasta, and use gluten-free flour or baking mix in place of the flour. If you use baking mix, you might only need 2 T, not 3. Try it with 2, and add more if needed.