We don’t have a Trader Joe’s in the Tri-Cities, so anytime I’m somewhere that DOES have one, I load up. I plan ahead, I research what the latest “hot” item is, I make lists, and I stock my car with coolers and cold packs so that I can bring home some cauliflower gnocchi.
The last time I was there, one of the items I was interested in was the “Everything But the Bagel” seasoning. I’m not even that big a bagel person, and when I do buy them, I usually go for sourdough. But people on the internet RAVE about this stuff, and it was like $2, so I threw a jar in my (overloaded) basket next to the gnocchi and the Cookie & Cocoa Swirl.
And then pretty much forgot about it, until last week when I was having a conversation about Trader Joe’s with my mom. She and my dad were possibly going to be passing through Spokane and she wanted to know what the big deal is and if it was worth making a stop. I was trying to explain all the unique items I’ve run across and how everything is so reasonably priced that before you know it you’ve spent $120 when I remembered the seasoning and thought “I wonder how that would be in mac & cheese?”
I’m so naïve that I honestly thought I’d come up with a brand new concept, but you know the saying “There’s nothing new under the sun?” Yeah, well, there’s also nothing new in the world of mac & cheese. There were many, MANY “Everything Bagel” mac recipes out there. I scanned several but didn’t really follow any of them directly, just refined my inspiration and came up with my own version.
Everything Bagel Mac
- 8 ounces elbow macaroni
- 2 cups whole milk
- ½ cup butter, divided
- 1/3 cup flour
- 4 Tbsp. cream cheese with chives
- 1½ cups shredded Havarti cheese
- 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 2 bagels (see notes)
- 2-3 Tbsp. Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel seasoning, divided (see notes)
- 2-3 Tbsp. chopped chives or green onions (optional)
- If you plan ahead better than I do, leave the bagels out for a day or two in advance to dry out slightly. Otherwise, slice them in half and toast them well in the toaster, oven, or toaster oven. Run 3 of the halves through a food processor to create breadcrumbs and cut the remaining half into cubes the size of croutons.
- Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and combine it with the bagel crumbs and 1 tablespoon of the seasoning. Set aside.
- Bring a pan of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta for 8 minutes. Drain and rinse, and set aside.
- Heat the milk over low-medium heat until just on the edge of bubbling but do not bring to a boil. Remove from heat.
- Melt 6 tablespoons of butter over medium heat, then stir in the flour and whisk continually for 2-3 minutes
- Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly, and continue cooking over low-medium heat for 4-5 minutes until it thickens slightly.
- Add the cream cheese, Havarti, and Parmesan and stir until melted.
- Stir in 1-2 tablespoons of the seasoning mix.
- Combine the cheese sauce and cooked pasta and stir to coat, then pour into a baking dish.
- Sprinkle the seasoned bagel crumb mixture evenly across the top and dot with the bagel croutons.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the topping is lightly browned, and the cheese is bubbling.
- Sprinkle with chopped chives and serve. (see notes)
WOW! I expected this to be good, but it is REALLY GOOD. Crunchy and cheesy and salty and creamy. It’s one of my favorites in recent weeks, and will probably make the year-end “best of” list. I will note that the bagel crumbs were a little dry – I drizzled some additional melted butter on top after it came out of the oven, which helped. Next time, I would either add more butter to the crumb/seasoning mix from the start, or drizzle the melted butter on before it went in the oven.
Like others, this one rates 5 noodles for taste, but it is a lot of steps and prep, so I marked it down a little. It’s not quick, but it’s worth the effort.
- Most of the recipes I scanned used a white cheese, and I hadn’t used Havarti yet, so I decided it was a good time to try it out.
- Yes, for true authenticity, I probably should have used “Everything” bagels. But what I HAD was sourdough.
- If you, like me don’t have access to a Trader Joe’s, and don’t happen to have an unopened jar of seasoning hanging out in your pantry, there are dozens of recipes online on how to make your own. It’s basically sesame seeds, dried garlic, dried onion, poppy seeds, and sea salt.
- I got carried away assembling it and put the chives on BEFORE it went into the oven, but it didn’t make a noticeable difference.
- I frequently add salt to the roux before adding the cheese, but the bagel seasoning mix is very salty on it’s own, so I skipped that step this time.
Posted October 22, 2020
*More like Week 33.85 … I intended to make this every day this week and I was just too tired. I’m determined to get back on track, so look for another post TOMORROW.