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Audrey's Deluxe Mac & Cheese

Serves 10.

3/4 lb dry pasta (used Lumache pasta)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large yellow onion, minced
2 tsp salt
8 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup chopped oregano**
2 tbsp chopped thyme**
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/4 cup unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup unbleached flour
4 cups (about 330 g) grated aged white cheddar
4 cups slices of whole grain bread, torn into small pieces
1 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup pine nuts (or almonds)

**Fresh herbs are best of course but dried works fine too.

1. Cook pasta in boiling water until just done. strain and toss with a light coating of olive oil. Set aside.

2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a small skillet and sauté onion for 5 minutes. add half of the minced garlic, 1/2 tsp salt and sauté until the garlic turns golden. transfer to a small bowl and stir in half of the chopped herbs. Set aside.

3. Next, make a roux for the cheese sauce. Gently heat the milk and keep it warm. Set a saucepan over medium heat and melt the butter. Sprinkle in flour and whisk constantly as the flour and butter turn golden. Gradually add the warm milk and 1 tsp salt and whisk thoroughly. heat until the sauce thickens (about 10 minutes).

Add the sautéed onion/herb mix, grated cheese and stir until the cheese melts. Season to taste.

4. Finally, make the topping. Combine the breadcrumbs with the remaining garlic, herbs, Parmesan, pine nuts, 1/2 tsp salt, lots of cracked pepper and the remaining 3 tbsp (45ml) olive oil. Mix together thoroughly.

5. Preheat the oven to 350F. to assemble, combine the noodles and cheese sauce in a large bowl and mix well. pour into an 8" x 12" dish. Scatter the topping over the entire surface, working some of it into the noodles. Bake uncovered until golden and bubbly (about 45 minutes). Serve piping hot.