Quickly pickled onions are a really fun condiment to have on hand; they are excellent on tacos, in salads or sandwiches, even in pastas. After making a batch from a Rick Bayless recipe I wanted to use them in everything and this loaded pasta was born.
This macaroni and cheese recipe is heavy with goodies and is only a healthy alternative if your other options are french fries or a deluxe pizza. But I can justify almost anything if it is made at home without preservatives, and so should you.
Mac and Cheese with Apples, Pickled Onions, Basil, and Bacon(serves 4)
Adapted from Pickled Red Onions from Epicurious
(Pickle the onions first, you only need 1 onion for this recipe. You can use them right away or allow them to sit in the fridge for a day first which will have better results.)
Put a large pot of water on to boil. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan add bacon and turn on the heat to medium. Crisp bacon evenly, stirring when necessary, when crisp remove to a plate leaving as much fat as possible in the saucepan. Add the butter to the sauce pan and allow to melt. Stir in flour, and cook, stirring for 4 minutes. Slowly whisk in milk 1/4 cup at a time. Whisk in Dijon and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring mixture to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, when the water is boiling add a few tablespoons of salt and cook pasta according to package directions. Cook until just shy of al dente, drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Turn oven on to 400F.
Slowly stir the cheese into the sauce. In a large pot or bowl toss the noodles, sauce, bacon, pickled onions, apples and basil. Pour into a baking dish. Using your fingers combine the remaining tablespoon of butter with the breadcrumbs until the butter is thoroughly distributed. Sprinkle the pasta with the breadcrumbs and transfer to the oven.
Bake for 20 minutes, if desired broil for a few minutes at the end to get extra browned and bubbly. Allow to rest for at least five minutes and then serve.