Air Fryer Southern Style Macaroni and Cheese: No Pasta Boiling Required
The recipe I'm posting today is one of the easiest around for macaroni (or pasta) and cheese. The mac n' cheese also is incredibly good. It's cheesy, has a custard-like texture, and, wonder of wonders, the pasta in the dish isn't mushy. The secret is using the microwave and letting the pasta mixture stand for at least five minutes before cooking it in the air fryer. The finished recipe will yield a small batch of macaroni or pasta and cheese--plenty for two people or for four, if the dish is to be a side. The top of the dish has the requisite browning. The inside? Well, it tastes like southern style mac n' cheese. It's good! This is comfort food, folks! That said, the dish isn't as rich as many traditional versions of macaroni and cheese. Rather than a lot of butter, the recipe incorporates cottage cheese, which provides creaminess and melds with a limited amount of full-fat shredded cheese. You won't taste the cottage cheese, though, only creamy, cheesy, custardy goodness. Enjoy!
Air Fryer Southern Style Macaroni or Pasta and Cheese -- Serves 2-4
1/2 cup of cottage cheese (regular or low-fat)
1 cup of milk
1 large egg
2 teaspoons of minced dried onion
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
1/4 teaspoon of salt (optional--I leave it out, as the cottage cheese and Parmesan have
enough salt in them)
1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese
1 cup of macaroni or penne pasta (or similar), uncooked
1 cup of shredded cheddar or Colby-Jack cheese, divided
Spritz two small, microwave-safe, baking dishes (I use 5-inch square dishes) or 4 large ramekins with nonstick cooking spray. In a medium bowl or measure, whisk together well the cottage cheese, milk, egg, dried onion, pepper, salt (if you're using it), and Parmesan. The mixture should look a little frothy after whisking. Stir in the macaroni and 3/4 cup of the cheese. Divide the mixture among the dishes. Microwave one dish (or half the ramekins) for three minutes on 50 percent power. Remove the dish from the microwave, stir the macaroni mixture, and let the dish/macaroni mixture sit for at least five minutes. Repeat the microwaving process with the remaining dish/ramekins. After the first dish has been sitting for at least five minutes, put it in the air fryer basket and put the basket in the air fryer. Air fry the macaroni and cheese for 25-30 minutes at 300 degrees. During the last few minutes, remove the air fryer basket from the fryer and sprinkle half of the remaining cheese on the top of the macaroni mixture. Put the basket back in the air fryer and continue cooking the macaroni mixture just until the cheese begins browning. Remove the macaroni and cheese from the air fryer basket and let it sit a few minutes to cool and firm up. Repeat the cooking process with the remaining dish/ramekins.