16 oz. elbows pasta (whole grain, basic, gluten-free, whatever you like). Cook pasta per packet instructions, drain and place in greased baking dish.
16 oz. grated cheese, any kind, but at least 3 types (preferably 5) to make it interesting, e.g. extra sharp cheddar, colby jack, mozzarella, etc… Whatever you do, DO NOT USE VELVEETA! I buy the cheese in bricks and grate it myself.
A few good-sized portabella mushrooms. Chop into pieces. Brown mushrooms in a separate pan with BUTTER for a few minutes till mushrooms impart smoky fragrance, but before they turn to mush. Add cooked mushrooms to the baking dish with elbows pasta.
Pre-heat oven to 400˚F in bake mode.
To make the cheese sauce or béchamel, you’ll need:
8 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
4 to 5 cups of milk (warm in microwave for a few minutes)
salt and pepper
parsley (handful, chopped)
Melt butter over low heat in saucepan. When butter is melted, add the flour. Stir and blend flour/butter mixture over low heat for at least 5 minutes till lumps are gone, and mixture has a slight hint of nut brown color. It is important to thoroughly cook the flour, but not burn the whole thing. Once mixture is well blended, GRADUALLY add the warmed milk a little bit at a time. Keep stirring over low heat. Get rid of lumps before adding more warmed milk. This is essentially your classic white sauce (béchamel) base.
Once all the milk is added and mixed, add grated cheese. Stir till cheese is all melted. Season with salt and pepper. Add parsley. Now you have your doctored-up cheese sauce.
Pour cheese sauce over cooked pasta and mushrooms. Sprinkle in a tiny bit of paprika if you like. Bake in oven uncovered for approximately 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven before cheese gets burned.